California Sues Toy Companies Over Lead

This week, California’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against 20 companies implicated in the various lead-tainted toy fiascos of 2007. The lawsuit “alleges that the companies violated the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986… because they didn’t notify customers of toys in the marketplace that contained high concentrations of lead.” The federal government doesn’t require such labeling, but California does.

If they lose the suit, the companies could have to pay as much as “$2,500 per day for each violation.”

Mattel has responded by saying that they’ve been “in continuous communication” with California’s attorney general’s office and that they’ve “cooperated fully in the matter” throughout the recall. Apparently Mattel takes California more seriously than the CPSC then—remember when they told the Wall Street Journal that “the company discloses problems on its own timetable because it believes both the law and the commission’s enforcement practices are unreasonable”?

Some companies named in the suit:

  • Mattel Inc.
  • Toys R Us
  • Fisher-Price Inc.
  • xMichaels Stores Inc.
  • Sears, Roebuck and Co.
  • Costco Wholesale Corp
  • Eveready Battery Co.
  • Kmart Corp.
  • Marvel Entertainment

“California sues 20 companies for toys with unlawful amounts of lead” [SFGate]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. dohtem says:

    If they lose the suit, the companies could have to pay as much as “$2,500 per day for each violation.”

    Is that $2500 per day for each contaminated toy sold?

    What constitutes a violation?

  2. Cera says:

    I am really getting sick of all these recalls. We hear about pet food recalls, recalls on food for people, vehicle recalls, and now, toy recalls. Christmas is coming and I’m scared to death to buy anything for my three-year-old cousin. Basically, all the food that’s been recalled I buy. Also, the pet food I bought for my dogs was one of the pet foods that was recalled. Apparently, I have a horrible track record with buying food (human or pet) that doesn’t get recalled for something. With my history, what are my chances on buying my cousin a toy that doesn’t get recalled?

  3. Egakino says:

    @dohtem: My question exactly, you just beat me to it :P.

  4. darkclawsofchaos says:

    I don’t believe retailers should be at fault, rather the manufacturers should be responsible as a retailer shouldn’t be required to test their goods as long as they are receiving the goods from a valid and legal source

  5. BigNutty says:

    I’m embarrassed by my states Attorney General. We do have a Mattel plant (or large distribution depot) here in the L.A. area and it seems like you would want to help Mattel, not make things worse.

    Probably a political maneuver. Ridiculous fine anyway for a company that basically imports most of it’s products.

  6. Rusted says:

    @BigNutty: If there’s one thing about the California gummint with the possible exception of Arnold, they are real anti-business. I spent a year there looking for work while business owners were fleeing to points east, like Nevada and Utah.

  7. Buran says:

    @Rusted: Seems to me then that businesses want to be free to ship dangerous products. I’d rather have something done to ensure those products are safe. This is one place where the “what do you have to hide, then?” line does apply.

  8. MelL says:

    @BigNutty: If the company put out a flawed product without testing it themselves, they deserve everything they get, imported or not. When it comes to assessing fault, the name of a Chinese guy won’t come up, it’ll be the brand name. Investors in those companies should be up in arms right now.