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From Products Liability Law Daily, October 7, 2015

DOJ/CPSC file enforcement actions/consent agreements against California importers/retailers of dangerous children’s products

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

The U.S.  Department of Justice (DOJ) reached agreements with two California companies, Brightstar Group, Inc. and Unik Toyz Trading, Inc., and three individuals to settle charges that they imported illegal and dangerous children’s products. The DOJ, at the request of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, had filed two separate civil actions in federal court in the Central District of California seeking to enjoin the importation and sales activities of the defendants.  The two complaints, which were filed at the request of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), alleged that the companies and defendants were responsible for importing children’s products containing, among other things, lead, phthalates and small parts posing a choking hazard for children under the age of three.  In accordance with the consent orders, the companies and defendants have agreed to be bound by the conditions of a permanent injunction. (DOJ Press Release, October 6, 2015.).

U.S. v. Brightstar Group, IncThe first complaint was filed against Brightstar Group Inc., a Los Angeles importer and retailer of children’s products and toys, and its owner, Sherry Chen, 61, of Arcadia, California.  The complaint alleged that beginning in August 2013, CPSC collected dozens of samples from Brightstar’s import shipments as they attempted to enter the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, and from Brightstar’s Los Angeles facility.  According to CPSC, it found numerous children’s products, including a fire engine set, a tea set, toy boxing gloves, collapsing stroller and marbles, in violation of the CPSA, the FHSA and their implementing regulations.  Based on these findings, CPSC issued nine Letters of Advice between September 2013 and April 2015, notifying the Brightstar defendants that their products violated federal standards.  Most of the noncompliant products were stopped at import and were not sold to consumers. Chen was also sued for violations, which included importing noncompliant infant rattles that occurred while she was the manager of Taifung Corp., a now-dissolved California corporation owned by her husband that also imported and sold children’s products and toys.

U.S. v. Unik Toyz Trading, Inc. The  second action was filed against Unik Toyz Trading Inc. (Unik), a Los Angeles importer and retailer of children’s products and toys, its owner, Julie Tran, 33, and its manager, Kiet Tran, 38, both of Arcadia, California.  DOJ alleged that since September 2011, CPSC had identified 39 samples of children’s products imported by Unik, including toy cars, toy trains, bubble guns and art materials, that violated the federal standards for children’s toys.  These violations included illegal levels of lead content and toys intended for children under the age of three that contain small parts and accessible batteries.  Most of these noncompliant toys were stopped at import at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and were not sold to consumers.

Consent orders. In conjunction with the filing of the complaints, the defendants in both lawsuits agreed to settle the litigation and to be bound by a consent decrees permanently enjoining them from further violations.  As part of the consent decrees, all of the defendants agreed to immediately cease all importation and sale of toys and children’s products, unless and until the CPSC determines that the firm’s practices have come into compliance with the law and with various remedial measures set out in the decrees.  The proposed consent decrees are awaiting judicial approval.

The cases are Nos. 2:14-cv-7822 (Brightstar Group, Inc. complaint and consent decree) and 2:15-cv-7821 (Unik Toyz Trading, Inc. complaint and consent decree).

Attorneys: Benjamin C. Mizer, Assistant Attorney General, for the United States of America.

Companies: Brightstar Group, Inc.; Unik Toyz Trading Inc.

MainStory: TopStory ComplaintNewsStory ChildrensProductsNews CaliforniaNews

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