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John Bisnar
John Bisnar
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Fisher-Price Pays $1 million Penalty.

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They failed to disclose a defective product.

Toy maker Fisher-Price has been fined close to $1 million for failing to report a product defect, a serious choking hazard with its Little People Animal Sounds Farm, a popular children’s toy, according to a report posted on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site.

New York-based Fisher-Price has agreed to pay $975,000 in penalties because it failed to report to the government agency that a nail fastener in the toy could separate from the toy and pose a serious choking or aspiration hazard to young children, according to a CPSC news release dated March 1.

About 67,000 Little People Animal Sounds Farms were sold nationwide by Fisher-Price between June 2002 and July 2002. In September 2002, the company received its first report of a nail fastener coming loose from one of the toy barns stall doors. Here is the most aggravating part of this story. Over the next two months, the company received nine additional reports of their products defect, including one case of a child placing the nail fastener in her mouth.

In February 2003, the company heard from two parents concerned that this defect posed a choking hazard to children. There was also a Dec. 30 2002 incident where a 14-month-old child aspirated a nail fastener into his lung. The child was rushed to the hospital where he underwent an emergency surgical procedure to have the metal nail fastener removed.

It was only in March 2003 that Fisher-Price reported the safety hazard to the CPSC. The company, by that time, was aware of at least 33 reports of the fastener coming loose – including four reports of children putting the part in their mouths and the one child who had to undergo surgery.

Federal law required manufacturers to report a product defect within 24 hours after obtaining information that reasonably supports that the product is defective and would cause substantial injury to the public.

But it wasn’t until April 2003 that Fisher-Price announced the recall of this particular defective toy.

The company clearly violated federal law and safety standards. It is appalling to me that the company that caters to children – anywhere from infants to much older children – would withhold such key information from consumers. There is no exaggeration when I say that these are life and death matters that are sometimes taken too lightly by manufacturers. Another profits over people story.

In this case, the child aspirated the fastener and underwent surgery in December 2002. The company did not report this until three months later? This is inexcusable and irresponsible behavior. Paying a $1 million fine is the least Fisher-Price can do. And the Bush administration wants to restrict your rights to hold such corporations responsible for their product defects. What if it was your child that was injured? Would you want to hold a negligent corporation responsible? How about if you discovered that this was their second million dollar fine for failure to timely disclose a product defect?