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Tainted toys – AS I SEE IT SCOTT B. COOPER (Harrisburg Patriot News Op Ed)

Posted On Behalf of Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers on May 15, 2012 in General

In this holiday season, our children dream of toy trucks and dolls but never think what they hope for might hurt them. For parents, however, this possibility is all too real.

So far this year, 74 toys have been recalled for containing lead paint, choking hazards, and toxic chemicals. In 2007, some 25 million items were deemed hazardous. The recent efforts to step up toy oversight took place only because Congress pressured the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take stronger action.

But the number of tainted toys taken off the shelf is only the tip of the iceberg.

As if the CPSC were a bureaucratic version of Scrooge, it recently found a way to again side with the big toy companies against our kids. It ruled that manufacturers and retailers could continue selling children’s products made with a dangerous chemical, phthalates, that can damage a child’s reproductive system, especially in boys. Retailers can distribute the toys until they exhausted their supplies. The manufacturers don’t even have to label which products meet the new safety standards and which don’t. One expert said this loophole could allow these items to be on store shelves for years.

We must believe that the new administration will take a more aggressive role, but it was left with the gift of record deficits and some spending will have to be cut. But even as government takes a back seat when it comes to our safety, there is still one institution we have been able to depend on: the civil justice system.

For centuries, it has existed to ensure our safety. When a defective product harms someone, it is through the civil justice system, a brave consumer’s will to take on a powerful corporation, and an attorney willing to take a risk where justice can be delivered and the irresponsible businesses held responsible. These actions act as a deterrent to companies putting poison toys, untested drugs and dangerous products on store shelves. Notwithstanding the loose standards of the federal agency, some manufacturers are finally pulling toys out of delivery trucks and have stopped putting questionable products up for sale. But others may not be so responsible: will they mark down toys with high lead levels before they are required to pull them by law in February 2009?

IN PENNSYLVANIA we are fortunate that we have a strong civil justice system that consumers can depend on. And we must keep it that way.

So many parents have their hands full worrying about pinching pennies in this economic crisis. Should they also have to worry that a stuffed pony or a plastic super car could be hazardous to their children’s health? The holiday season should be a time to indulge our children. We must be vigilant in making sure the gift of giving does not turn out to be a path to poison, choking and maybe even death.


SCOTT B. COOPER, Esq., is an attorney with Schmidt Kramer, P.C., Harrisburg.
For more information on dangerous and recalled toys, visit worstToyList_index.html and baby/safety/toy-recalls/ biggest-toy-recalls-of-2008/