The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing today that Imperial Toy Corp., of Los Angeles, Calif., has agreed to pay a $200,000 civil penalty for importing and selling children's toys that violated federal safety standards. To protect young children from choking, aspiration, or ingestion hazards, federal law prohibits toys intended for children under three from having small parts.
The civil penalty levied against Imperial (pdf) is the largest ever imposed against a toy company penalized or sued for the first time for violating CPSC's small parts regulations.
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California also enjoined Imperial from violating CPSC's toy regulations in the future and the court is requiring that Imperial's toys be independently tested for safety and proper age-grading prior to importation and distribution.
The lawsuit against Imperial, which was filed in May 2003, alleged that between 1998 and 2001 the company imported two models of toys (totaling about 10,000 units) which had small parts in violation of CPSC regulations. The toys were candy-filled plastic trucks and dolls' feeding sets. The trucks were recalled in 1998 and the dolls' feeding sets were recalled in 2001. Through the inspection and detective work of CPSC and the U.S. Customs Service, many of these toys were seized at the Port of Long Beach before they could reach store shelves. No incidents or injuries have been reported with those toys that made their way into children's hands.
In 2003, CPSC recalled 80 toys and children's products that posed a risk of injury. In 2002, the latest year for which CPSC has data, there were an estimated 212,000 children (under 15 years old) treated in hospital emergency rooms due to toy-related incidents. There were 13 deaths associated with toys.
The Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Litigation handled this case on CPSC's behalf.
Imperial denies that its toys violated CPSC regulations.
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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