A recent announcement by the Consumer Product Safety Commission that Burlington Coat Factory has agreed to a civil penalty totaling $1.5 million is a victory for everyone concerned about injuries to Oregon children.
According to a CPSC news release: “The settlement resolves CPSC staff allegations that from 2003 to 2010, Burlington knowingly failed to report immediately to CPSC, as required by federal law, that it had sold many different children’s sweatshirts and jackets with drawstrings at the neck.” It adds that drawstrings at neck level can cause strangulation “that can result in serious injury or death.” The government has recommended against them for many years and they have been formally banned since 2006.
Even more disturbingly, the CPSC alleges that between 2008 and 2012 Burlington “knowingly sold or had in its store inventories many of these garments after they had been recalled.” The resulting $1.5 million civil penalty is the largest that the commission has ever assessed for a violation of this type.
We can all be happy that justice has been served in this case but, as so often happens with product recalls, it is slightly disturbing to see how long the entire process took to play out. CPSC notes that it has been issuing warnings about drawstrings since the early ‘90s – a full decade before the sweatshirts in question were even manufactured – and that manufacturers agreed to a voluntary ban on neck-level drawstrings on children’s clothing as far back as 1997.
The incident is a reminder of the important role that Oregon child injury lawyers and Oregon product liability attorneys play in our system. They frequently are called on to act as advocates by parents and other loved ones seeking justice in the aftermath of a preventable tragedy. In such circumstances grieving parents also often find themselves lined up against powerful corporate interests. It is at such moments that the help a skilled attorney offers in leveling the legal playing field becomes essential.