The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing today that STK International Inc. (STK), of Los Angeles, Calif., must pay $270,000 in civil and criminal penalties for importing and selling dangerous children's toys. STK must pay a $120,000 criminal penalty and the company and its President Stuart T. Kole must collectively pay a $150,000 civil penalty. Additionally, STK, Kole, and other officials of STK are enjoined from violating CPSC's toy and art material regulations and must comply with an injunction mandating that the company's toys are tested before importation.
The combined fine is the largest ever to be imposed against a company that violated the small parts requirement. This requirement is aimed at protecting young children from toys that could present a choking or aspiration hazard. This case also represents the first time both civil and criminal fines were levied against a company for toy-related violations.
"CPSC has a vigorous nationwide program that detects and catches repeat offenders of federal safety laws," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "Working closely with our partners at the Justice Department and the U.S. Customs Service, we want to send a clear message to toy importers: there will be consequences for those who bring unsafe products into our country."
This is the second fine imposed on STK, which is a general merchandise importer, in the past five years. In May 1997, STK was ordered by CPSC to pay an $80,000 civil penalty for importing and selling over 90,000 toys and art materials that violated the small parts and labeling laws, respectively. Through continued monitoring of STK's imports and retail surveillance between June 1997 and July 2002, CPSC determined that Kole and the company committed additional violations of the ban on small parts for children's toys and labeling and testing requirements for art materials. This led CPSC and the Department of Justice to bring 12 criminal misdemeanor counts against the company, along with civil charges against STK and Kole for importing and selling banned and misbranded hazardous substances.
In addition to the payment of the penalties, STK and Kole must abide by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), including the FHSA provisions for children's toys and art materials. The company must also ensure that independent age grading and small-parts testing are conducted prior to importation, if the toys are age-graded for children under 3.
The civil penalty against STK is the result of the importation and sale of clock tambourines, which were recalled in November 1997; wind-up helicopters; pencil sets; and various other toys, games, and art materials. The criminal fine stems from the company's importation of 110,000 children's toys that CPSC recalled in August 2001. Dollar stores nationwide sold the toys, which can break, releasing small parts that pose a choking hazard to young children. The toys included a "2 Piece Tambourine Set," "Bathtime Water Wheel," "Funny Loco Wind-Up," and the "Pull Back Duck in Boat." Consumers should take the toys away from children immediately, and return them to STK International for a full refund. Consumers should call STK International toll-free at (800) 536-7855 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday for information about where to send the toys.
The Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Litigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles handled the cases on CPSC's behalf.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
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