Kid clothiers fined for drawstrings

August 7, 2008 5:15:44 AM PDT
Nine companies have agreed to pay a total of $355,000 in fines for failing to tell the government some of their children's clothing had hood and neck drawstrings, which are prohibited because they've caused dozens of strangulation deaths over the years. Under federal regulations, children's jackets and sweat shirts cannot contain drawstrings at the neck, hood or waist. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said the fines settled allegations that the companies knowingly failed to report the drawstrings immediately, according to a statement issued Wednesday.

The CPSC also announced three other companies were recalling more than 8,000 pieces of children's clothing because the clothing contained inappropriate drawstrings.

The agency has recorded dozens of child strangulation deaths from the past two decades, including cases in which children's drawstrings were caught in school bus doors. Most recently, a 2-year-old boy from San Jose, Calif., died from strangulation in May when his sweatshirt's drawstring was caught in a daycare play set.

"This is deadly hazard," said Scott Wolfson, a CPSC spokesman. "The industry has been warned over and over again to stop, and these penalties are another message to them to comply with the federal guidelines."

The importers, distributors and retailers paying the penalties include AJ Blue LLC of New York; A&R Knitwear Inc., New York; Cobmex Inc., Lakewood, Calif.; Liberty Apparel Co. Inc., New York; Rebelette International Trading Corp., South El Monte, Calif.; Scope Imports Inc., Houston; Sears Holdings Management Corp., Hoffman Estates, Ill.; Siegfried & Parzival Inc., City of Industry, Calif., and Vacation Clothing Exchange Inc., doing business as Basix USA, of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.

The agency announced three recalls Wednesday due to drawstrings that can pose strangulation hazards to children: - About 1,200 BongoCheetah girl's jackets, made in China and distributed by Kids with Character. No injuries have been reported. The jackets were sold at Marshalls stores nationwide from November 2007 through this month.

- About 1,200 drawstring hoodies, made in China by Request Jeans. No injuries have been reported. They were sold at mass merchandisers and other retail stores nationwide from January through March last year.

- About 5,740 hooded sweat shirts, made in China and distributed by Raw Blue Sportswear. No injuries have been reported. They were sold at TJ Maxx, Mega Trends, Moonstone Shirts and MP Trading stores nationwide from July through December last year.