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New York sues Target, Walmart, LaRose over lead-contaminated toys

Staff Writer |
New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced a lawsuit against Target, Walmart, and importer LaRose Industries, for allegedly committing thousands of violations of multiple New York laws governing the safety of children’s toys sold in the state.

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The action stems from testing conducted by the Attorney General’s office that found “Cra-Z-Jewelz” jewelry-making kits that were imported by LaRose, and sold by the retailers Target and Walmart in New York, contained parts with lead levels up to 10-times higher than the federal limit of 100 parts per million (ppm).

The findings of the Attorney General’s investigation previously resulted in a nationwide recall of the toys.

Attorney General Underwood’s lawsuit, which was filed in Albany County Supreme Court today, alleges that Target, Walmart, and LaRose violated multiple New York State laws – including those related to selling hazardous toys, as well as deceptive acts and false advertising – by importing, distributing, selling, or holding for sale thousands of Cra-Z-Jewelz kits in New York between 2015 and 2016.

The suit seeks civil penalties from the retailers and LaRose for the alleged violations, and a court order to require the companies to implement additional measures to ensure they do not again sell children’s toys containing high levels of lead in New York.

In 2015 and 2016, the Attorney General’s office purchased a number of Cra-Z-Jewelz jewelry-making kits from stores in New York City, Long Island, and the Syracuse and Buffalo areas.

Tests revealed that the wristbands associated with several kits sold at Target and supplied by LaRose contained lead at levels of 120 to 980 parts per million (ppm) – levels that exceeded the 100 ppm limit established under the federal Consumer Product Safety Act for children’s products. The Attorney General’s office determined that the same kits supplied by LaRose were offered for sale by Walmart stores in New York.

Following the reporting of the Attorney General’s findings, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, LaRose, and the Attorney General’s office all conducted additional testing of the wristbands that corroborated the Attorney General’s initial findings of high lead contamination. LaRose then issued a national recall of the jewelry-making kits.

The lawsuit stems from these finding and the Attorney General’s follow-up investigation.

The suit alleges that Target, Walmart, and LaRose Industries engaged in repeated illegality and fraud under New York State law by committing thousands of violations of state law prohibitions on importing, distributing, and selling hazardous toys; deceiving consumers; and false advertising.

The suit asks the court to assess civil penalties against the companies for violating these state laws; penalties could collectively range from $70 to $6,000 for each Cra-Z-Jewelz kit the companies sought to sell in New York.

The suit also seeks a court order to require the companies to take actions to ensure that toys with high lead levels do not end up on the retailers’ store shelves.

The Attorney General office’s investigation pointed to a troubling breach in the safety net that is supposed to keep these dangerous products from being sold. As a result of this investigation, LaRose adopted a number of affirmative measures to better ensure that the imported toys they sell comply with federal lead limits. The lawsuit asks the court to direct LaRose to maintain these measures and to take additional measures.


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