Burlington Coat Factory Slapped With $1.5 Million Civil Penalty

Company allegedly failed to report drawstrings in children's outerwear and sold recalled outerwear

Selling recalled products and not reporting problems is a serious matter -- and Burlington Coat Factory is finding out just how serious. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says the Burlington, NJ-based retailer has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1,5 million to resolves CPSC staff allegations of a variety of offenses. 

Allegations 

Among the allegations are that Burlington knowingly failed to report immediately to CPSC, as required by federal law, that it had sold many different children's sweatshirts and jackets with drawstrings at the neck between 2003 and 2010. Children's upper outerwear with drawstrings, including sweatshirts, sweaters, and jackets, poses strangulation and entanglement hazards to children that can result in serious injury or death. 

The settlement also resolves CPSC staff allegations that from 2008 to 2012, contrary to federal law, Burlington knowingly sold or had in its store inventories many of these garments after they had been recalled. 

The penalty is the highest that CPSC has ever assessed for violations involving children's upper outerwear with drawstrings. 

Reporting requirements

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 that 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. 

Federal law also bars selling products that have been recalled by a manufacturer. 

Drawstring warnings

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. 

The sweatshirts and jackets that are the subject of the penalty were sold by Burlington Coat Factory stores throughout the country. Beginning in 2007, CPSC and the garments' manufacturers and distributors, as well as Burlington in 2010, announced the recalls listed below of children's garments with drawstrings covered by the penalty.

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Manufacturer/Importer/Distributor/Retailer

Product

Number of Units (Approximate)

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5 Star Apparel

Mecca children’s hooded jackets with drawstrings

11,500

_

Allura Imports

Girls’ hooded sweatshirts

3,700

_

Baycreek

Hooded sweatshirts

1,900

_

Bobens Trading

Girls’ hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings

3,900

_

Brand Evolution

Locks All Over boys’ hoody, All Over Skaters boys’ hoody and

Rock Mask boys’ hoody

2,800

_

Bubblegum USA

Girls’ hooded jackets with drawstrings

900

_

Burlington Coat Factory

12 brands of hooded jackets and sweatshirts

10,000

_

Byer California

Girls’ cargo pocket jackets

600

_

Fashion Options

Boys’ velour warm-up sets

5,400

_

Franshaw

Children’s hooded jackets

2,400

_

Haselson International Trading

Children’s hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings

23,000

_

Hind Fashions

Boys’ hooded jackets

200

_

Jason Evans

Boys’ fleece & flannel zip hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings

18,300

_

Jason Evans

Children’s hooded jackets

1,300

_

KOMAN Sportswear

Boys’ hooded sweatshirts and warm-up sets

13,300

_

Liberty Apparel

Jewel brand girls’ hooded sweatshirts

12,000

_

Liberty Apparel

Jewel girls’ hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings

2,300

_

Lollytogs

Rim Rocka boys' hooded jackets and Pelle Pelle girls' hooded jackets

23,000

_

North-Sportif

North-Sportif hooded jackets and reversible vests

360 jackets and 360 vests

_

Regaliti

Girls’ hooded jackets with drawstrings

3,600

_

S. Rothschild & Co.

Girls’ coats

13,500

_

Ten West Apparel

Boys’ hooded jackets

75

_

Trendset Originals

Girls’ hooded jackets

2,400 of Marci & Me brand,

unknown number of Shampoo brand

_

Weeplay Kids

Hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings

11,800

_

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

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.
Consumer Affairs

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