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The CDSC ordered Daijin Bed Co. to pay a compensation of 300,000 won and replace the radon mattresses with new ones 2018-12-07

The CDSC ordered Daijin Bed Co. to pay a compensation of 300,000 won and replace the radon mattresses with new ones

- Recognized the mental distress that consumer must have suffered when the mattresses produced by Daijin Bed were found to release radon-induced radiation at levels exceeding the safety standard -

 

    With respect to the collective dispute mediation requested by “radon mattress” users, the Consumer Dispute Settlement Commission (CDSC, Chairperson Shin Jongwon) under the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) made a decision that Daijin Bed Co., responsible for manufacturing the radon mattresses, should replace the problematic products with new ones and compensate consumers with 300,000 KRW.

In accordance with the Framework Act on Consumers, to promptly resolve disputes related to collective consumer damage, collective dispute mediation procedures are commenced in cases where the same or similar damage occurs to a group of consumers (more than 50), and if a settlement through the mediation conducted by the CDSC is reached between both parties involved in a dispute, the settlement is as equally binding as a judicial reconciliation.

 

 

Case Summary

    The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) evaluated the radioactive levels of radon in the mattresses produced by Daijin Bed Co., and found that 29 varieties of the mattresses tested contained radioactive materials exceeding the safety standard for processed products of 1 millisievert (mSv), set forth by the Act on Safety Control of Radioactive Rays around Living Environment, taking administrative measures to collect and discard the problematic mattresses.

Groups of consumers applied for collective dispute mediation by the CDSC, claiming a refund of the money already paid for the radon mattresses and requesting compensation for radon-induced illnesses.

Radon is known to be the leading cause of lung cancer, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization has classified the radon as a Group 1 Carcinogenic to Humans.

 

    The decision came after the CDSC decided to commence its collective dispute mediation procedures on June 25, pursuant to paragraph (2) of Article 68 of the Framework Act on Consumers, and received applications for participation in the procedures from consumers who suffered the same damage from July 2 to 31. And as a result, a total of 6,387 applicants took part in the mediation procedures.

 

    As of October 29, the final mediation decision date, however, only 4,665 of them were eligible for a replacement and compensation, excluding those who failed to submit evidence materials or filed a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Daijin Bed said it is unable to pay the compensation claimed by the applicants, citing a lack of funds and ongoing civil suits.

 

    The CDSC, however, recognized that there is a substantial reason for Daijin Bed, Co. to compensate the applicants, given that the shock and worries that they must have felt when the mattresses were found to release radiation at levels exceeding the safety standard, and the recall procedure for the problematic mattresses was not conducted quickly and smoothly.

    

    Nevertheless, the CDSC did not review the request for compensation for lung cancer and other illnesses, on grounds that there is no institution to be able to measure the level of radon-induced radiation exposure on human body in Korea, and it is difficult to prove a causal relationship between the illnesses incurred to the applicants and the radon.

 

    Meanwhile, in regard to refunds for purchases, the CDSC concluded that Daijin Bed should replace each applicant’s radon-contaminated mattress with a new one, pursuant to the Regulations on Consumer Dispute Resolution notified by the Korea Fair Trade Commission, considering that the applicants could not use their mattresses due to the collection of the mattresses, which is considered the same as damage arising from unrepairable products.

 

    The CDSC plans to send its mediation statement containing the above decision to the applicants within 14 days from the date of drawing up the statement, and the applicants receiving the statement should notify the CDSC as to whether to accept the mediation outcome within 15 days from the date of receipt of the statement. If parties involved in a dispute agree to reach a settlement through the CDSC mediation, the settlement is as equally binding as a judicial reconciliation, and if one of the parties to a dispute refuses to accept the mediation outcome produced by the CDSC, the dispute can be resolved through the legal procedures (civil litigations).

 

    The decision made by the CDSC is particularly significant in that the Commission acknowledged a business operator’s liability to pay compensation for consumer damage caused by radon exposure, regardless of whether the radon exposure caused any illnesses.

 

    The CDSC said that it will continue to make efforts to resolve disputes as quickly and fairly as possible by actively utilizing its collective dispute mediation procedures for the same damage caused to many consumers.

 

 

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