Attorney General Barbara Underwood said on Thursday she was suing Target, Walmart and a toy importer for selling thousands of jewelry-making kits that tested positive for high levels of lead.
Underwood said the "Cra-Z-Jewelz" kits tested 10 times higher than the federal lead limit, and had been sold throughout the state between 2015 and 2016, including in New York City. The suit was filed in Albany.
"No parent should have to worry that their child’s toy may be toxic. As we allege, these companies imported and sold toys with dangerous levels of toxic lead — jeopardizing the health of New York’s children and breaking the law,” Underwood said in a statement. “Our lawsuit seeks to hold these companies accountable for the failures that allowed lead-contaminated toys on store shelves, while forcing them to take responsibility for the safety of the products they sell.”
According to Underwood, the AG’s office tested wristbands included in several kits sold at Target and Walmart that were supplied by LaRose Industries. LaRose and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission then conducted additional testing before LaRose issued a national recall of the kits, the AG’s office said.
The recall, which is posted on LaRose’s website, said the kits were made in China.
Underwood said she is seeking civil penalties from both the retailers and LaRose in the range of $70 to $6,000 for each "Cra-Z-Jewelz" kit the companies sought to sell in New York. She also requested a court order to ensure measures are put in place to prevent this from happening again, directing LaRose to create of a permanent director of sourcing and quality control and suggesting vendors be required to test components and raw materials of finished products.
“We take our customers’ safety seriously and require our suppliers to meet all safety standards. As soon as LaRose Industries made us aware of the product recall nearly three years ago, we removed the items from our shelves and online and haven’t sold them since," Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in an email. "We’ve discussed this matter with the New York Attorney General’s office and will address the allegations and demands with the court.”
A Target spokeswoman said the retail chain also removed the items after learning of the lead issue.
"As soon as the New York Attorney General let us know about the allegations with this product after its testing back in 2016, we immediately and voluntarily pulled the bracelet kit from our stores," Target spokeswoman Danielle Schumann said in an email. "We’re committed to providing high quality and safe products to our guests and we require all of our vendors to follow safety laws and CPSC guidelines for the products they sell at Target.
A representative for LaRose did not immediately respond to a request for comment.