Product Liability: Retailer Fined $3.9 Million for Illegal Sale of Children’s Clothing with Drawstrings

Last month, a discount retailer agreed to pay one of the largest fines ever issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The civil penalty settles allegations over illegal sales of children’s clothing with drawstrings.

The CPSC announced that Ross Stores, based in Pleasanton, California, agreed to pay a $3.9 million penalty and implement compliance programs. From January 2009 to February 2012, the CPSC alleges that Ross Stores knowingly failed to report that it sold or held for sale about 23,000 children’s upper outerwear garments with drawstrings at the neck or waist.

Under federal law, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers must report to the CPSC within 24 hours of learning about a defective product which may create a substantial product hazard. They must also report those which create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death or fail to comply with CPSC regulations.

In July 2011, the CPSC issued a final rule and determined that children’s upper outerwear garments in certain sizes present substantial product hazards. The ruling should have taken the majority of children’s clothing with neck, hood and waist strings out of stores.

Ross Stores has now been fined twice over drawstring clothing for children. In 2009, it paid a $500,000 fine for failing to report it sold garments between 2006 and 2008.

The CPSC has received over two dozen reports of children suffering injury and wrongful death when clothing drawstrings get caught on playground equipment or vehicle doors. Since passing its 2011 rule, it has issued 8 recalls. In 2011, the CPSC also fined Macy’s $750,000 for selling children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings.


Ross Stores Fined in Sales of Defective Clothing, New York Times

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