Nine Firms Agree to Pay $355,000 in CPSC Civil Penalties

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced yesterday that nine firms have agreed to pay a total of $355,000 in civil penalties.

The penalties settle allegations that the firms knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that their children's hooded sweatshirts, jackets, or sweaters were sold with drawstrings at the hood and neck. These products, which the firms eventually recalled, pose a strangulation hazard that can cause death to children. The settlements have been provisionally accepted.

The firms paying the penalties are:

  • AJ Blue LLC, of New York
  • A&R Knitwear Inc., of New York
  • Cobmex Inc., of Lakewood, Calif.
  • Liberty Apparel Co. Inc., of New York
  • Rebelette International Trading Corp., of South El Monte, Calif.
  • Scope Imports Inc., of Houston
  • Sears Holdings Management Corp., of Hoffman Estates, Ill.
  • Siegfried & Parzival Inc., of City of Industry, Calif.
  • Vacation Clothing Exchange Inc., d/b/a Basix USA, of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.

In February 1996, CPSC issued drawstring guidelines (pdf) to help prevent children from strangling or getting entangled on the neck and waist drawstrings in upper outerwear, such as jackets and sweatshirts. 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 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 risk of injury to the public, presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or violates a federal safety standard.

In agreeing to settle the matters, the firms deny CPSC's allegations that they knowingly violated the law.

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