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CPSC Announces Hooded Sweatshirt Recall, Settlements Over Dangerous Clothing

Sep 9, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Another recall of children's drawstring clothing was announced by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) today.  At the same time, the Commission announced that several clothing firms have agreed to pay civil penalties to settle allegations that they failed to report children's clothing with dangerous drawstrings to the CPSC in a timely manner.

According to the CPSC,  La Jolla Sport USA Inc., of Irvine, Calif. is recalling hooded fleece sweatshirts with style names “Love Goes” (style #39810012) and “Up and Under” (style #39202202). The sweatshirts have drawstrings through the hood which pose a strangulation hazard.  

These sweatshirts were sold under the O’Neill brand name in child sizes S – XL. The RN #85773 is printed on the care label in the neck.  According to the CPSC, the recalled sweatshirts were sold at Ron Jons’ Surf Shop, Dillards and McCaulous stores nationwide from June 2009 through August 2009 for about $65.   

According to the CPSC, the following firms have agreed to pay civil penalties:

  • Maran Inc., of North Bergen, N.J. and K.S. Trading Corp., of Moonachie, N.J., have agreed to pay a total of $85,000 in civil penalties.  In May 2008, Maran recalled about 6,000 Squeeze Kids Girl's Corduroy Jacket sold at TJ Maxx stores during January 2007.  In August 2008, K.S. Trading recalled 5,740 Raw Blue Hooded Sweatshirts sold at TJ Maxx, Mega Trends, Moonstone Shirts and MP Trading stores nationwide from July 2007 through December 2007.
  • Hill Sportswear Inc., of Paramount, Calif. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $100,000.  This past February, Hill Sportswear recalled approximately 120,000 Kid Pullover Hood and Kid Zipper with Hood hooded sweatshirts. The recalled sweatshirts were sold at various small retailers in California and Texas from 2003 to December 2008 for approximately $8.
  • Kohl’s Department Stores Inc., of Menomonee Falls, Wis. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $425,000.   This past March, Kohl's recalled 40,000 hooded sweatshirts sold under the Seattle Cotton Works brand.  These sweatshirts were  sold at Kohl's Department Stores from January 2009 through February 2009 for about $17.

In agreeing to these settlements, all of the above named firms deny the CPSC’s allegations that they knowingly violated the law.

In February 1996, the CPSC issued guidelines to help prevent children from strangling or becoming entangled on the neck and waist by drawstrings in upper garments, such as jackets and sweatshirts. In 1997, industry adopted a voluntary standard for drawstrings that incorporated the CPSC guidelines.  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.

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, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by CPSC.

Unfortunately, the CPSC 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.

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