Ross Stores Settles CPSC Charges; Agrees to $3.9 Million Civil Penalty
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Ross Stores Inc. has agreed to pay a $3.9 million civil penalty for continuing to sell defective children's clothing.
The settlement resolves CPSC charges that from January 2009 to February 2012, Ross knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that it sold or held for sale, about 23,000 children's upper outerwear garments with drawstrings at the neck or waist.
In February 1996, CPSC issued guidelines (which were incorporated into a consensus industry voluntary standard in 1997) to help prevent children from strangling or getting entangled on neck and waist drawstrings in upper garments, such as sweatshirts and jackets.
In May 2006, the Commission posted a letter on its website which stated that it considered children's upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck to be defective and present a substantial risk of injury to young children. In July 2011, based on the 1996 CPSC guidelines and the 1997 voluntary standard, CPSC issued a final rule which designates the hazards presented by drawstrings in children's upper outerwear as substantial product hazards.
Ross's distribution of some children's garments occurred during the same period of time as CPSC's investigation and negotiation of a 2009 civil penalty. The $500,000 penalty that Ross paid in 2009 was to settle CPSC charges that it failed to report four series of children's upper outerwear drawstring garments distributed between 2006 and 2008. Ross's distribution of the other garments in this matter occurred either partially or entirely after the effective date of CPSC's Final Rule.
In addition to paying a monetary penalty, Ross has agreed to implement and maintain a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the reporting requirements of Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Final Rule. Ross also agreed to enhance its existing compliance policies.
Federal law requires manufacturers, distributers, 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.