California settles with Mattel Inc.

Legal News Line Dec. 5, 2008, 10:00am

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo agreed to a $1.8 million settlement with nine toy manufacturers, including Mattel Inc.and its subsidiary Fisher Price.

The settlement is aimed at safeguard children from lead contamination, officials said.

Brown announced the deal late Thursday, which precludes a new federal law that will toughen standards beginning on Feb. 10, 2009.

In the settlement, the companies involved agreed to stop selling any toys they know contain lead. The companies will also pay $550,000 for lead testing and improved notification to customers, the attorney general's office said.

The toy companies will also pay $460,000 toward the cost of the investigation and another $548,500 for civil penalties, according to the terms of the settlement.

The settlement speeds up the implementation of the coming federal standards prior to the coming holiday season.

"These consumer protection agreements will safeguard California's children from lead-contaminated toys this Christmas," Brown said. "Putting these agreements into effect immediately is absolutely critical because so many toys are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas, months before new federal standards go into effect."

Following a series of toy recalls, Brown and Delgadillo launched an investigation in 2007 under California's Proposition 65, which demands businesses post a clear and reasonable warning if customers could be exposed to hazardous chemicals.

Proposition 65 requires the governor to post a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. Lead has been listed since the late 1980s.

Following its investigation Brown and Delgadillo sued 17 toy manufacturers and retailers. Those that still haven't settled these lawsuits include Costco, KB Toys, Kmart, Michaels, Sears, Target, Toys 'R" Us and Wal-Mart.

Along with Mattel, RC2, A&A Global Industries, Cranium Inc., Everready Battery Co., Marvel Entertainment, Toy Investment, Kids II and Amscan agreed to the terms of the settlement, according to court documents.

These companies admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Mattel recalled more than 21 million toys -- all made in China -- over the past year, amid concern that many popular toys were tainted with lead paint.

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