Bon-Ton to Pay $450K Penalty

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced Friday that The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. of York, Pa., has agreed to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $450,000.

The settlement resolves allegations that the department store knowingly failed to report to the CPSC immediately, as required by law, that its children’s hooded jackets and sweatshirts were sold with drawstrings through the hood.

Kid’s jackets and sweatshirts that include a drawstring pose a strangulation hazard.

The CPSC and three other retailers announced recalls of the jackets and sweatshirts with drawstrings through the hood in 2010 on February 18, March 10 and May 27. Bon-Ton was a retailer of about 800 total jackets and sweatshirts in all three recalls.

CPSC began warning about drawstring dangers in the early 1990s. The agency issued guidelines in 1996 about drawstrings in children’s upper outerwear. Those guidelines were incorporated into an industry voluntary standard in 1997. In 2006, CPSC’s Office of Compliance announced that children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as defective and presenting a substantial risk of injury to young children. Then, in July 2011, based on the guidelines and voluntary standard, CPSC issued a federal regulation that designated as substantial product hazards children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T to 12 (or extra-small to large) with neck or hood drawstrings, and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T to 16 (or extra-small to extra-large) with certain waist or bottom drawstrings.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to the CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after getting information that a product could contain a defect which would 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. Federal law also bars selling products that have been subject to a voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

In agreeing to the settlement, Bon-Ton denies CPSC staff allegations that it knowingly violated the law.