The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Sunsations Inc., of Virginia Beach, Va., has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $60,000. The penalty agreement (pdf) has been provisionally accepted by the Commission (5-0).
The settlement resolves CPSC staff allegations that Sunsations knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that it sold children’s hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings at the neck from March 2008 through November 2010. Children‘s upper outerwear with drawstrings, including sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets, poses a strangulation hazard to children that can result in serious injury or death.
In December 2009 and again in March 2011, CPSC and Sunsations announced recalls of more than 15,000 children’s sweatshirts that were sold in Sunsations stores in Virginia Beach, Va., Ocean City, Md. and North Carolina.
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 which 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.
In 1996, CPSC issued drawstring guidelines (pdf) to help prevent children from strangling on or getting entangled in the neck and waist drawstrings of upper outerwear, such as jackets and sweatshirts. In 2006, CPSC‘s Office of Compliance announced that children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as defective and as presenting a substantial risk of injury to young children.
In agreeing to the settlement, Sunsations denies CPSC staff allegations that it knowingly violated the law.
Note: On June 29, 2011, the Commission approved a final rule that designates children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 12 with neck or hood drawstrings, and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 16 with certain waist or bottom drawstrings, as substantial product hazards.