The government has asked a federal court in California to issue an injunction shutting down the importation and sales activities of four California companies and six individuals in connection with their imports of illegal children’s products containing, among other things, lead, phthalates and small parts inappropriate for children under age three. Phthalates are a chemical plasticizer that make certain products flexible, and certain types of phthalates are banned from use in children’s toys and other child care products. The Justice Department filed the injunction action in the Central District of California at the request of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The defendant companies in the case are Toys Distribution Inc. dba TDI International, S&J Merchandise Inc., BLJ Apparel Inc. and All Season Sales Inc. The defendant individuals are Loan Tuyet Thai, Lan My Lam, Paul Phuong, Cuc T. Thai, Tom Liu and Luan Luu.
“Companies cannot be allowed to import hazardous toys into the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “Parents have a right to feel confident that the toys their children play with are safe.”
The CPSC determined through an investigation that the defendants imported various items into the United States in violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). The violative products that Toys Distribution Inc. imported included: motorized and “pull-back” toy cars with impermissible lead content and small parts hazards, numerous toy musical instruments with small parts hazards, dolls containing impermissible levels of lead and phthalates and rattles that failed to meet the infant rattle standards. S & J Merchandise’s imports of violative products included numerous models of toy cars with impermissible lead content or small parts hazards, a toy telephone with small parts hazards and numerous different plastic dolls with impermissible phthalate levels. The violative products imported by BLJ Apparel included children’s products and toys with illegal levels of total lead content, toys intended for children under three years of age that contained small parts and infant rattles that may cause choking or suffocation. All Season Sales’ violative imports included a children’s kitchen set and police set that both exceeded the lead content limit.
The government also alleged that the defendants’ operations were associated with each other and that the companies share various personal or professional ties that make joining all the conduct into one lawsuit appropriate.
“CPSC and our federal law enforcement partners are committed to keeping dangerous toys out of the marketplace all year long,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler. “Manufacturers, importers and retailers need to know that CPSC and the Justice Department are actively enforcing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a law that has strengthened the nation’s product safety net.”
Defendant companies S&J Merchandise Inc., BLJ Apparel Inc. and All Season Sales Inc., as well as defendant individuals Tom Liu and Luan Luu have agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a Consent Decree of Permanent Injunction that enjoins them from committing violations of the CPSA and FHSA. The proposed consent decree will be filed shortly with the court for judicial approval. The lawsuit continues against the remaining defendants.
The case is being handled by Patrick Runkle, trial attorney with the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California on behalf of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A complaint is merely a set of allegations that, if the case were to proceed to trial, the government would need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence.