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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Hill Sportswear Inc., of Paramount, Calif. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $100,000. The penalty settlement (pdf), which has been provisionally accepted by the Commission, resolves CPSC staff allegations that Hill Sportswear knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that children's hooded sweatshirts it manufactured and sold had drawstrings at the neck.
Children's upper outerwear with drawstrings, including sweatshirts, poses a strangulation hazard to children which can result in serious injury or death. In November 2008, a 3-year-old boy died in Fresno, Calif. when the drawstring on his Hill Sportswear hooded sweatshirt reportedly became stuck on a playground set strangling him. Hill Sportswear and CPSC announced a recall of the sweatshirts in February 2009.
CPSC issued drawstring guidelines (pdf) in 1996 to help prevent children from strangling or getting entangled on the neck and waist drawstrings in upper outerwear, such as jackets and sweatshirts. In 1997, industry adopted a voluntary standard for drawstrings that incorporated the CPSC guidelines. In May 2006, CPSC's Office of Compliance announced (pdf) that children's upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as defective and as presenting a substantial risk of injury to young children.
About 120,000 of these Hill Sportswear sweatshirts were sold at various small retailers in California and Texas from 2003 through December 2008 for approximately $8. Due to the serious nature of this hazard, parents are urged to immediately remove the drawstrings from the sweatshirts or return the garment to either the place of purchase or to Hill Sportswear for a full refund.
Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could 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.
In agreeing to the settlement, the firms deny CPSC's allegations that they knowingly violated the law.