WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Winter Bee Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif., has agreed to a civil penalty of $200,000. The penalty settlement (pdf), which has been accepted provisionally by the Commission, provides that Winter Bee must pay $40,000 of the $200,000 penalty. The Commission agreed to suspend $160,000 of the penalty because the firm demonstrated an inability to pay the full amount. The full amount could become due immediately if CPSC finds that Winter Bee misrepresented its financial condition. The settlement resolves CPSC staff allegations that Winter Bee knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that children's hooded sweatshirts it manufactured and sold had drawstrings at the neck.
Children's upper outerwear with drawstrings, including sweatshirts, poses a strangulation hazard to children that can result in serious injury or death. In June 2009, CPSC and Winter Bee announced a recall of 80,000 children's hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings at the neck. Winter Bee manufactured and sold two styles of these sweatshirts under the brand name "Speedy" at various retailers in the Los Angeles area.
CPSC issued drawstring guidelines (pdf) in 1996, to help prevent children from strangling on or getting entangled in the neck and waist drawstrings of 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.
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, Winter Bee denies CPSC staff allegations that it knowingly violated the law.
Statement of Commissioner Nancy Nord on the Proposed Civil Penalty Settlement for Winter Bee (pdf)
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