The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just announced that toymaker, Henry Gordy International, Inc., the maker of toy dart guns that were recalled in 2010, agreed to pay a $1,100,000 civil penalty. The penalty agreement has been provisionally accepted by the Commission in a unanimous 5-to-0 vote.
The settlement resolves CPSC staffâ€™s allegations that New Jersey-based Henry Gordy knowingly failed to immediately report a safety defect and hazard with its â€œAuto Fire Target Setâ€ to the CPSC, a federal mandate. CPSC staff also alleges that Henry Gordy made a material misrepresentation to them during their investigation into the Auto Fire Target sets.
CPSC staff alleges that on or about May 2006 Henry Gordy was aware its target set was defective and could cause harm; however, it failed to report this defect to the Commission. CPSC staff alleges that the target set is defective because should a child place the soft, pliable, plastic toy dart into his or her mouth, the toy can be inhaled into the throat and can prevent the child from breathing. CPSC staff also alleges that Henry Gordy made a material misrepresentation in May 2009 to its staff during its investigation into the target sets by not fully reporting information.
In May 2010, Family Dollar Stores, Inc. and CPSC announced the massive recall of about 1.8 million Auto Fire Target Sets because Henry Gordy refused to conduct the recall. The CPSC announcement can be accessed at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10234.html.
By the time this recall was announced, three deaths had been linked to the defective Auto Fire Target Sets, which were sold exclusively by Family Dollar between September 2005 and January 2009 for about $1.50 each. Each Auto Fire Target Set was sold with a toy gun; soft, pliable, plastic toy darts; and a small target.
The recall notice described the “Auto Fire” toy target set as being sold with either an orange and yellow toy gun (item #P238) or a blue and yellow toy gun (item #9328), eight orange darts, and a small target with numbers from 1 to 20. The soft plastic darts measure just over one-inch in length and have a small Â½-inch suction cup at one end. The target board is black, yellow, red, and green, and measures five inches in diameter. “Gordy Toy” for “Ages 8+” is printed on the packaging. The toy sets, which were manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Family Dollar stores nationwide from September 2005 through January 2009 for about $1.50.
In agreeing to the settlement, Henry Gordy denies CPSC staff allegations as to the existence of a defect or that it knowingly violated the law. The CPSC said that pursuant to the Consumer Product Safety Act, it must consider the appropriateness of the penalty to the size of the business of the person charged, which included how to address undue adverse economic impacts on small businesses.
Also, federal law requires that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers immediatelyâ€”within 24 hoursâ€”report to the CPSC when information is obtained that reasonably supports 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. Firms are also specifically required to advise the CPSC about choking incidents involving small balls, latex balloons, marbles, or toys or games containing these items or other small parts. Companies that receive information about children choking on any of these items and/or who died as a result, suffered serious injury, ceased breathing for any length of time, or were treated by a medical professional are required to report this information to CPSC immediately.