Products Liability Law Daily NY AG sues Target, Walmart over sale of lead-contaminated toys
Friday, December 14, 2018

NY AG sues Target, Walmart over sale of lead-contaminated toys

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

Yesterday, New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood filed a lawsuit against Target Corporation, Walmart Inc., and importer LaRose Industries, alleging thousands of violations of multiple New York laws governing the safety of children’s toys sold in the state. Specifically, the complaint asserts that "Cra-Z-Jewelz" jewelry-making kits imported by LaRose and sold by Target and Walmart contained toxic lead at levels up to ten times greater than the federal limit. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and a court order requiring the companies to create an action plan to ensure that toys with high lead levels do not end up on the retailers’ shelves again (A.G. Underwood Press Release, December 13, 2018).

Background. The lawsuit stems from a series of tests conducted on the subject jewelry-making kits in 2015 and 2016. The Attorney General’s office purchased kits from Target stores in New York City, Long Island, and the Syracuse and Buffalo areas and found that the wristbands included in the kits contained lead at levels of 120 to 980 parts per million (ppm)—levels that exceeded the 100 ppm limit established under the federal Consumer Product Safety Act for children’s products. The same kits were sold in Walmart stores throughout New York.

Lead, a known neurotoxin, can affect almost every organ and system in the human body. Children are particularly vulnerable to the health risks posed by lead exposure, suffering behavior and learning problems, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, and anemia from even low levels of lead in the bloodstream.

Additional testing of the wristbands by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, LaRose, and the Attorney General’s office corroborated the initial test results of high lead contamination. Subsequently, LaRose announced a national recall of the jewelry-making kits.

Complaint. The Attorney General’s complaint alleges that Target, Walmart, and LaRose violated multiple New York State laws—including those related to selling hazardous toys, as well as deceptive acts and false advertising—by importing, distributing, selling, or holding for sale thousands of Cra-Z-Jewelz kits in New York between 2015 and 2016. The suit asks the court to assess civil penalties against the companies that could collectively range from $70 to $6,000 for each Cra-Z-Jewelz kit the companies sought to sell in New York. Additionally, the complaint seeks a court order requiring the companies to adopt affirmative measures to keep dangerous products from being sold.

Attorneys: Barbara Underwood, Attorney General of the State of New York, for The People of the State of New York.

Companies: Target Corp., Walmart Inc., LaRose Industries, LLC

MainStory: TopStory ChildrensProductsNews ComplaintNewsStory NewYorkNews

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