14 Firms to Pay Over $1 Million Due to Dangerous Children's OuterwearApr 8, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just announced that 14 firms have agreed to pay a total of $1,055,000 in civil penalties for failing to report dangerous drawstrings in children’s outerwear, an ongoing and life-threatening problem.
The penalties settle allegations that the firms knowingly failed to report to the CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that children’s hooded sweatshirts or jackets they sold had drawstrings at the hood and/or neck. Children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings, including sweatshirts or jackets, pose a strangulation hazard that can cause death to children. The garments were eventually recalled as appropriate and the settlements have been provisionally accepted by the CPSC. CPSC has ordered the following firms to pay civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury:
- The TJX Companies Inc., d/b/a T.J. Maxx, of Framingham, Massachusetts: Recalls: #09-083, #08-266, #08-121
- Marshalls of MA Inc., of Framingham, Massachusetts: Recalls: #08-357, #08-356, #08-207, #08-192, #08-177, #08-146, #08-121
- Concord Buying Group Inc., d/b/a A.J. Wright, of Framingham, Massachusetts: Recalls: #08-358, #08-234, #08-121
- Bob’s Stores Corporation of Meriden, Connecticut: Recalls: #08-288, #08-121
- Kidz World Inc., d/b/a High Energy USA, of New York City, New York: Recall: #08-234
- The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., of York, Pennsylvania: Recall: #08-103
- Coolibar Inc., of St. Louis Park, Minnesota: Recall: #08-316
- Brents-Riordan Co. LLC, of Shreveport, Louisiana: Recall: #08-238
- Forman Mills Inc., of Pennsauken, New Jersey: Recall: #08-192
- Urgent Gear Inc., of Los Angeles, California: Recall: #08-217
- Seventy Two Inc., of La Puenta, California: Recall: #08-185
- Orioxi International Corp., of Brea, California: Recall: #08-379
- Outfitter Trading Co. LLC, of Littleton, Colorado: Recall: #08-379
- Retco Inc., of Breckenridge, Colorado: Recall: #08-379
In February 1996, the CPSC issued drawstring guidelines meant to help prevent children from becoming entangled or strangling on hood and neck drawstrings in upper outerwear. In May 2006, the CPSC’s Office of Compliance issued an announcement that such outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as both defective and a substantial risk of injury to young children. Still the guidelines are routinely ignored by the clothing industry, and that attitude has had deadly consequences for some children. From January 1985 through January 1999, the CPSC received reports of 22 deaths and 48 non-fatal entanglement incidents involving drawstrings on children’s clothing.
Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or violates any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by the CPSC. In agreeing to settle the matters in these cases, the firms deny CPSC’s allegations that they knowingly violated the law.
Late last month five separate sweatshirt recalls were issued for strangulation hazard. In every case, the recalled clothing item was manufactured in China. The firms involved in those recalls are: Golden Grove Hooded Fleece Jackets with Drawstrings, La Jolla Sport Children’s Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings, Dysfunctional Clothing Children’s Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings, MM Compound Children’s Hooded Sweatshirts, and Rusty North America Children’s Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings.