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New York sues Target, Walmart over lead-contaminated toys

An employee pushes shopping carts outside a Walmart store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

(Reuters) – Target Corp (TGT.N), Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and toy importer LaRose Industries were sued on Thursday over the sale of lead-contaminated children’s toys, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said.

The lawsuit, filed in New York state court in Albany, is over “Cra-Z-Jewelz” jewelry-making kits that were imported by LaRose and sold by Target and Walmart. Tests conducted by the attorney general’s office found that the kits contained levels of lead that were up to 10 times higher than the federal limit, according to the complaint.

Although the kits were recalled, the complaint says the companies failed to take “measures sufficient to ensure that they do not again import, distribute, and sell toys that place New York children at risk of adverse health consequences from lead exposure.”

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties collectively ranging from $70 to $6,000 for each “Cra-Z-Jewelz” kit the companies sought to sell in New York.

It also seeks an order directing LaRose and Target, when it acts as an importer, to implement a quality control program for overseas manufacturing operations and a testing program for lead levels, and seeks a separate order directing that Target and Walmart, as retailers, confirm compliance certificates for toys imported for sale in New York and a testing program for lead levels.

Walmart said it removed the toys from its shelves and online as soon as LaRose informed the recall nearly three years ago and it did not sell the products thereafter.

“We’ve discussed this matter with the New York Attorney General’s office and will address the allegations and demands with the court,” a Walmart spokesman said.

Target said it stopped selling the toy in April 2016 immediately after the New York Attorney General informed them about the problems with the product.

LaRose did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru and Nandita Bose in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler

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