Major Apparel Retailer To Pay a $60,000 Civil Penalty For Failure To Report Drawstrings In Children’s Outerwear

December 03, 2008
Release Number: 09-061

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Nordstrom Inc., of Seattle, Wash., has agreed (pdf) to pay a $60,000 civil penalty. The penalty settles allegations that the firm knowingly failed to report to the CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that its children’s hooded jackets and sweaters were sold with drawstrings at the hood and neck. These products, which the firm eventually recalled, pose a strangulation hazard that can cause death to children. The settlement has been provisionally accepted by the Commission.

CPSC alleged that Nordstrom failed to report to the government in a timely manner that drawstring jackets and sweaters were sold by the firm. Nordstrom sold about 2,400 drawstring jackets and sweaters in the United States between November 2007 and December 2007. In February 2008 and March 2008, CPSC and Nordstrom announced the recall of the drawstring jackets and sweaters.

In February 1996, CPSC issued drawstring guidelines (pdf) to help prevent children from getting entangled and possibly strangling on hood and neck drawstrings in upper outerwear, such as jackets and sweatshirts. In May 2006, CPSC’s Office of Compliance announced (pdf) that children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as 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 violates any consumer product safety rule, or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by the CPSC.

In agreeing to settle the matter, Nordstrom Inc. denies CPSC's allegations that it knowingly violated the law.