WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. of York, Pa., has agreed to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $450,000. The penalty agreement has been provisionally accepted by the Commission in a 3-0 vote.
The settlement resolves CPSC staff allegations that the firm knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that its children’s hooded jackets and sweatshirts were sold with drawstrings through the hood.
Children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings, including jackets and sweatshirts, pose a strangulation hazard to children. CPSC and three U.S. importers announced recalls of children’s jackets and sweatshirts with drawstrings through the hood on February 18, March 10 and May 27, 2010. Bon-Ton was a retailer of about 800 total jackets and sweatshirts in all three recalls.
CPSC began warning about drawstring dangers in the early 1990s. The agency issued guidelines in 1996 about drawstrings in children’s upper outerwear. Those guidelines were incorporated into an industry voluntary standard in 1997. In 2006, CPSC’s Office of Compliance announced (pdf) that children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as defective and presenting a substantial risk of injury to young children. Then, in July 2011, based on the guidelines and voluntary standard, CPSC issued a federal regulation that designated as substantial product hazards children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T to 12 (or extra-small to large) with neck or hood drawstrings, and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T to 16 (or extra-small to extra-large) with certain waist or bottom drawstrings.
Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect that 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. Federal law also bars selling products that have been subject to a voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
In agreeing to the settlement, Bon-Ton denies CPSC staff allegations that it knowingly violated the law.