Dangerous Children’s Clothing Prompts Civil Penalty

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just announced that Winter Bee Inc. of Los Angeles, California, has agreed to a civil penalty of $200,000 over dangerous <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">children’s clothing. The penalty settlement—which can be accessed here –has been accepted provisionally by the CPSC and provides that Winter Bee must pay $40,000 of the $200,000 penalty.

The CPSC 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 also 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. The recall notice can be accessed here.

Winter Bee manufactured and sold two styles of these sweatshirts under the brand name “Speedy” at various retailers in the Los Angeles area.

In May 2006, the CPSC’s Office of Compliance issued an announcement that such outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as both defective and a substantial risk of injury to young children.

Unfortunately, the CPSC guidelines are routinely ignored by the clothing industry, and that attitude has had deadly consequences for some children. From January 1985 through January 1999, the CPSC received reports of 22 deaths and 48 non-fatal entanglement incidents involving drawstrings on children’s clothing.

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, said the CPSC, Winter Bee denies CPSC staff allegations that it knowingly violated the law.

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