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WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL J.B. VAN HOLLEN REACHES $12 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH TOY MAKER MATTEL RESOLVING INVESTIGATION OVER TOYS RECALLED FOR EXCESSIVE LEAD PAINT

 

MADISON -- Today, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen along with the Attorneys General of 38 other states reached a settlement agreement with Mattel, Inc. and Fisher-Price, Inc., its subsidiary, resolving a 16-month long investigation into the events that resulted in a recall of the company's toys for excessive lead paint during 2007. The agreement, filed today in Dane County Circuit Court, requires Mattel to comply with more stringent lead coating standards and make a $12 million payment to be divided among the participating states. Wisconsin will receive $234,682 of the settlement.

 

From August through October 2007, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") recalled approximately 2 million Mattel and Fisher-Price toys manufactured in China, alleging that the toys contained excessive lead in accessible surface coatings. At the time of the recalls, the CPSC standard permitted for lead in accessible surface coatings was 600 parts per million, a standard adopted by Wisconsin law. Lead levels taken of the recalled toys during the course of the Attorneys General's investigation uncovered that levels not only exceeded the federal standard, but in some instances, tested over 10,000 and 50,000 parts per million - over 83 times the legal level.

 

"Lead has long been understood to be hazardous at high levels, and federal and state standards were enacted to ensure that children's exposure to lead would be limited," Van Hollen said. "When these children's toys and other products were recalled last year, they contained lead levels beyond what is permitted by federal and state law. These laws must be followed, and when they are not, there are consequences. I will continue work with other state Attorneys General and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to enforce these laws."

 

The agreement reached by the Attorneys General includes more stringent standards for accessible lead both in surface coatings and substrates, effective for toys manufactured after November 30, 2008. Since the Attorneys General initiated their investigation, Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act ("CPSIA") which will provide more stringent standards for lead in surface coatings and substrates starting in February, 2009. Mattel has agreed with the Attorneys General to phase in more stringent standards ahead of the timelines provided by the CPSIA. Mattel has also agreed with the Attorneys General to notify them if it confirms excessive lead in any of its products in violation of state or federal law, or the Consent Judgment, and to work with the Attorneys General to remedy such violations.

 

The states were led by an Executive Committee, consisting of Assistant Attorneys General in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

 

Assistant Attorney General Nelle Rohlich represented the State in the court proceedings.