Pro-Pac Distributing Corp. Agrees to Pay $125,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Drawstrings in Children's Sweatshirts

September 8, 2010
Release Number: 10338

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Pro-Pac Distributing Corporation, of Gardena, Calif., has agreed to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $125,000. The penalty settlement (pdf), which has been provisionally accepted by the Commission, resolves CPSC staff allegations that Pro-Pac knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that it imported and distributed about 5,000 children's hooded sweatshirts in two styles that had drawstrings at the neck.

Children's upper outerwear with drawstrings at the neck and waist can pose a substantial risk of injury or death when the string on the garment catches onto an item such as playground equipment. CPSC issued drawstring guidelines (pdf) in 1996 to help prevent children from being strangled or becoming entangled by the neck and waist drawstrings in upper outerwear, such as jackets and sweatshirts. In 1997, industry adopted a voluntary standard for drawstrings that incorporated the CPSC guidelines. 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 as presenting a substantial risk of injury to young children.

Pro-Pac sold these sweatshirts under the ProClub label at various retailers in Los Angeles, Calif., and Las Vegas, Nev., from November 2008 through December 2008 for around $20. In July 2009, CPSC and Pro-Pac announced the recall of both of Pro-Pac's hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings due to a strangulation hazard. Due to the serious nature of this hazard, parents are urged to immediately remove the drawstrings from the sweatshirts or return the garments to either the place of purchase or to Pro-Pac for a full refund.

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.

In agreeing to the settlement, Pro-Pac Distributing denies that it knowingly violated the law, as alleged by CPSC staff.