Fisher-Price Paying $975,000 Penalty for Toy's Choking Hazard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced yesterday that it has provisionally accepted Fisher-Price Inc.'s agreement to pay a $975,000 civil penalty to settle allegations the toy company failed to report to the government that a nail fastener in the Little People? Animal Sounds Farm could separate from the toy and pose a serious choking hazard to young children. The East Aurora, N.Y.-based toymaker sold 67,000 of them nationwide in June and July 2002.

Fisher-Price received the first report of a nail fastener coming loose in September 2002, and nine more reports arrived during the succeeding two months, the agency said. "By February 2003, Fisher-Price had received two reports of parents concerned that this problem posed a choking hazard to children and a report of a December 30, 2002 incident in which a 14-month old child aspirated a nail fastener into his lung. The child was taken to the hospital and underwent an emergency surgical procedure to have the metal nail fastener removed. It was not until March 2003 that the company reported the safety hazard with the Little People? Animal Farm to the Commission. By that time, Fisher-Price was aware of at least 33 reports in which the nail fastener came loose from the stall doors. These included four reports of children who put the metal nail fastener in their mouths and the one case of the child who aspirated the nail fastener," CPSC's news release said.

Federal law requires firms to report to CPSC within 24 hours after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion a product contains a defect that could create a substantial risk of injury to the public, presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or violates a federal safety standard. In April 2003, CPSC and Fisher-Price announced the recall of the Little People? Animal Sounds Farms and recommended that consumers take the toy away from young children immediately and contact the company to receive a free repair kit.

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