Natasha Metzler reports, “Target has agreed to pay a $600,000 civil penalty for importing and selling a variety of toys with high levels of lead paint on the surface (AP for FindLaw, 10/1). The Consumer Product Safety Commission alleged, “Target knowingly imported and sold the illegal toys between May 2006 and August 2007.” Target denies that is knowingly broke the law, which some have speculated was part of the settlement. According to government safety officials, the lead content of the surface coatings on some toys was higher than is legally allowed by the 1978 lead paint ban.
The CPSC has been actively imposing sanctions this year as the Target settlement brings the number of civil penalties to 39 and the dollar value of fines imposed to just under ten billion dollars, a record for both penalties and fines. As a Chicago attorney who has seen too many lives torn apart by similar negligence, I am encouraged that the CPSC has imposed many sanctions this year on deserving companies. Although target denies knowingly breaking the law, importing toys with high levels of lead based paint is inexcusable.