SAN FRANCISCO — Hewlett-Packard Co. will pay US$425,000 to settle a claim that it knowingly sold laptops with hazardous batteries that could overheat or catch fire, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Monday.

HP had learned of about 22 incidents involving the batteries by September 2007, but it failed to report the problem until 10 months later, according to the Commission.

“In at least two of those incidents, the products caused injury to consumers. In at least one of those incidents, the consumer apparently went to the hospital,” the Commission said in a settlement agreement with HP.

The lithium-ion battery packs were shipped in new HP laptops or sold as accessories and spare parts. Because of the defect, they could overheat, posing fire and burn hazards, the Commission said.

Soon after it reported the problem, HP [NYSE: HPQ ]and the Commission recalled about 32,000 lithium-ion battery packs.

Around the same time, Dell and Toshiba also recalled lithium-ion battery packs, which had been manufactured by Sony.

In agreeing to the settlement, HP denied the batteries posed an unreasonable risk or that it had violated federal reporting requirements. With respect to the recall, it acted “in accordance with the CPSA and in its customers’ best interests,” HP said in the agreement.

The Commission said it still wants to hear about incidents involving the battery packs. Consumers can report them at the SaferProducts.gov website.



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