A New Jersey-based toy company has been fined $1.1 million by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission because it didn't report that a toy dart gun set was a choking hazard to children.
With the holiday season near and toy companies rushing to put out millions of toys, there are bound to be defective children's products on the market this time of year.
Sadly, the companies that are seeking the millions of dollars in revenue are sometimes more concerned with producing toys than ensuring they are safe. While there are standards that must be met, corners are cut in order to push the products onto the shelves faster. And to maximize profits, of course.
This means that parents must be ever more vigilant when looking over presents, deciding what to buy and watching their children when they play -- particularly with new toys. Injury cases can range from the minor to tragic disfigurement, amputation injuries, suffocation and death. Consumer protection lawyers work to hold defective product manufacturers accountable.
In this case, the Plainfield, N.J. company, didn't report a defect in the "Auto Fire Target Set" under federal law. The company knew in 2006 that the toy set was defective because if children place the soft plastic toy dart in their mouths, it can be inhaled and block their airwaves, causing them to lose the ability to breath.
The company recently agreed to the $1.1 million settlement with the commission, which is charged with ensuring product safety by enforcing federal laws. When staff investigated the issue in 2009, it alleges the company misrepresented the problems with the product and its knowledge of the defect.
In May 2010, 1.8 million of the sets were recalled by the commission and Family Dollar Stores because the company refused to conduct the recall. By then, three children had died as a result of choking on the dart sets. Family Dollar exclusively sold the toys between September 2005 and January 2009 for $1.50.
Federal laws state that manufacturers, distributors and retailers report within 24 hours after they get information that a product contains a defect that could cause a hazard, creates a risk of serious injury or death or doesn't comply with consumer product safety rules.
In agreeing to the settlement, the company denies allegations that there was a defect or it violated the law, the commission states.
While a settlement may allow the company to deny any allegations of wrongdoing, the allegations were that the company sold a bad product and clearly didn't take the steps to correct the problem. Three children died as a result. These were preventable deaths that didn't need to happen.
So, as we approach the holiday season and you consider buying toys or other products for your children, don't just look at price. Consider the potential hazards that such a product may pose, because the company that made it may not have taken that into consideration in its rush to make money.
The Ferraro Law Firm represents people injured by recalled or defective products throughout the country. Call 1-800-275-3332 for a free and confidential consultation. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
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