RC2 Corp. of Oak Brook, Illinois has agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty for importing and selling toys that contained too much lead in the paint.
The fine is part of a settlement that the publicly traded company, which had $437 million in 2008 sales, reached today with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which claims that the toy seller and its Learning Curve Brands Inc. unit "knowingly" imported and distributed various Thomas & Friends wooden railway toys with paints or other surface coatings with excessive lead levels.
In the settlement, RC2 denies that it knowingly violated the federal lead-paint ban, the CPSC said.
RC2 stressed that the toy in question in the settlement was part of a 2007 recall.
"All similar products that RC2 markets today meet or exceed not only safety standards set by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, but toy safety standards worldwide," the company said in a statement. "Toy safety is our top priority at RC2, and we have a comprehensive testing program in place that creates a strong protective barrier to provide parents added comfort and assure continued full compliance with product safety standards around the globe."
The RC2 penalty stems from a 2007 recall of various Thomas & Friends toys. The commission's staff alleged that RC2 failed to ensure that the toys would comply with a ban on excessive lead in paint, creating a risk of lead poisoning.
In May 2007, RC2 reported to the agency that more than two dozen styles of vehicles, buildings and other train-set parts from the product line had levels exceeding what was then a limit of 600 parts per million of lead by weight in paints or coatings. In August and September of that year, it reported that five more toys from the line exceeded the limit, the commission said.
The civil penalty settles the following allegations:
--That RC2 imported up to 1.5 million units of non-compliant toys between January 2005 and June 2007 and distributed them to retailers to sell to U.S. consumers. Those toys were recalled in June 2007.
--That RC2 imported up to 200,000 units of five additional non-compliant toys from the line between March 2003 and April 2007, and also sold them to merchants. In September 2007, the original June 2007 recall was expanded to include those toys.
"The highly publicized recall of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys was a catalyst for congressional action aimed at strengthening CPSC and making the lead-in-paint limit under federal law even stricter," agency Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement.