With holiday gift-giving just behind us, I was pleased as a Missouri product liability attorney to see that the federal government is still concerned about toy safety. According to a Dec. 29 article from the Associated Press, toy maker RC2 Corp. has agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil fine for allegedly knowingly importing and selling Thomas & Friends toys with lead paint. Tests showed the toys, made in China and intended for young children, had lead levels above those set by federal law. The company and its Learning Curve Brands Inc. subsidiary admitted no wrongdoing. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency that handles safety of toys and other products, has provisionally agreed to accept the settlement.
Lead paint on toys is a problem because lead can poison developing children who ingest or inhale it over time. Lead interferes with the body’s absorption of minerals necessary for health and development, such as iron, calcium and zinc. In children with chronic lead poisoning, this leads to irreversible damage to the central nervous system, causing learning and developmental disabilities, aggression, hyperactivity, emotional control problems, loss of short-term memory and more. These effects are thought to be irreversible in children, which is why public health efforts focus strongly on prevention. RC2 recalled 1.7 million units of the Thomas & Friends toys for lead paint in 2007. The CPSC’s fine was so high because it believes the company knew its toys didn’t meet standards but sold them anyway.
As a southern Illinois defective product lawyer, I hope the CPSC is wrong — but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was right. You may recall that 2007 and 2008 saw multiple recalls of toys with lead paint, many of them made in China. At that time, media reports explained that Chinese-made products are cheaper, but Chinese safety standards are relaxed and easily broken. This allows U.S. companies to make their products overseas for very cheap, but their products may not meet basic safety standards in our country. An unscrupulous company might be happy to make that trade-off if profit is its only goal. Unfortunately, the series of lead recalls showed that too many companies either did not pay attention to this issue or cynically chose to place profits over the safety of small children.
The federal government has tightened standards for lead toys and continues to recall products that it finds unsafe. Unfortunately, recalls come too late for kids who have already been exposed to lead and other dangers from defective toys. For these families, the only recourse may be to sue the wrongdoers who caused their injuries, especially if they knew about the dangers. Carey, Danis & Lowe is proud to represent clients who were seriously hurt by defective products of all kinds, including toys with toxic ingredients. Our St. Louis product defect attorneys help victims claim compensation for all of the injuries caused by the unsafe product, including physical injuries, pain, emotional trauma and any disability or death as well as all financial costs caused by the accident.
If you sustained serious injuries from using a defective or unsafe product of any kind, you should call the Lowe Law Firm for help. To set up a free, confidential evaluation of your case, please contact us through our Web site or call 1-877-678-3400 today.