Reebok to Pay Record $1 M Civil Penalty

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on March 18 that Reebok International Ltd., a manufacturer of athletic shoes and apparel, has agreed to pay the government a $1 million civil penalty. This penalty, which has been provisionally accepted, is the largest for a Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) violation and follows a recall announced of 300,000 bracelets.

The penalty settles allegations that Canton, Mass.-based company imported and distributed charm bracelets that contained toxic levels of lead. The charm bracelets were provided as free gifts with the purchase of various styles of children's footwear. In March 2006, a 4-year-old boy from Minneapolis who swallowed the bracelet's heart-shaped pendant died.

The FHSA bans toxic levels of accessible lead in toys and other children's products. CPSC's enforcement policy urges manufacturers of children's metal jewelry to keep lead content below 0.06 percent by weight.

"This civil penalty sends a clear message that the CPSC will not allow companies to put children's safety at risk," said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "Preventing dangerous metal jewelry from reaching the hands of children is a priority for our agency."

In agreeing to settle the matter, Reebok denies that it violated federal law.

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