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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Government Files Enforcement Actions against Two California Companies and Three Individuals to Stop Importation of Dangerous Children's Products

The Department of Justice announced today that it filed two civil actions in federal court in the Central District of California seeking to enjoin the importation and sales activities of two California companies and three individuals in connection with their importation of illegal and dangerous children’s products.  The department filed the two actions at the request of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), alleging that the defendants were responsible for importing children’s products containing, among other things, lead, phthalates and small parts posing a choking hazard for children under the age of three.  The companies and defendants have agreed to settle the lawsuits and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction.

“Companies who do not comply with CPSC’s statutes and regulations regarding toys put American children at risk,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Parents have a right to feel confident that the toys their children play with are safe.”  

“We have zero tolerance for companies and individuals who put children at risk,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye.  “To protect our children from unsafe and dangerous toys, we’ll continue to use all available enforcement tools at our disposal as well as continue to collaborate with our federal partners.  Parents deserve no less when it comes to the safety of their children’s toys.”

“There is no greater responsibility of the Department of Justice than to protect our nation’s children,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California.  “Today’s action demonstrates the Department’s commitment to keeping our children safe from all sources of harm.”

Both complaints allege that the defendants imported toys and other children’s products in violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA).  One complaint was filed against Brightstar Group Inc., a Los Angeles importer and retailer of children’s products and toys, and its owner, Sherry Chen, 61, of Arcadia, California.  The complaint alleges that since August 2013, CPSC collected dozens of samples from Brightstar’s import shipments as they attempted to enter the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, and from Brightstar’s Los Angeles facility.  Based on their findings, CPSC issued nine Letters of Advice between September 2013 and April 2015, notifying the Brightstar defendants that their products violated federal standards.  CPSC found numerous children’s products, including a fire engine set, a tea set, toy boxing gloves, collapsing stroller and marbles, in violation of the CPSA, the FHSA and their implementing regulations.  Most of the violative products were stopped at import and were not sold to consumers.  Chen is also sued for violations, which include importing violative infant rattles that occurred while she was the manager of Taifung Corp., a now-dissolved California corporation owned by her husband that also imported and sold children’s products and toys.

A second action was filed against Unik Toyz Trading Inc. (Unik), a Los Angeles importer and retailer of children’s products and toys, its owner, Julie Tran, 33, and its manager, Kiet Tran, 38, both of of Arcadia, California.  The complaint alleges that since September 2011, CPSC identified 39 samples of children’s products imported by Unik, including toy cars, toy trains, bubble guns and art materials, that violate federal standards for children’s toys.  These violations include illegal levels of lead content and toys intended for children under the age of three that contain small parts and accessible batteries.  Most of these violative toys were stopped at import at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and were not sold to consumers.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaints, the defendants in both lawsuits agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction.  All of the defendants agreed to immediately cease all importation and sale of toys and children’s products, unless and until the CPSC determines that the firm’s practices have come into compliance with the law and with various remedial measures set out in the decrees.  The proposed consent decrees are awaiting judicial approval.

The cases are being handled by Trial Attorneys Melanie Singh and Ann F. Entwistle of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Renee McCune of the CPSC’s Office of the General Counsel.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California also provided assistance.

Consumer Protection
Updated October 6, 2015