Two years after a young Scotch Plains girl suffered injuries from a toy previously banned by the state, a New Jersey Superior Court Judge ordered the manufacturer to pay the State of New Jersey more than $67,000 in fines and legal fees.
The case began in 2008, when 5-year-old Sydney Blacker was playing with a rubber, water-filled yo-yo ball attached to an elastic cord. Blacker was injured when the cord wrapped around her neck, and although she did not suffer permanent injury, the yo-yo broke blood vessels in her neck before her mother was able to unwrap and remove the cord.
According to Thomas Calcagni, acting director of the New Jersey Attorney General's Office of Consumer Affairs, the toy had caused prior injuries in the state, and New Jersey had banned sales of the toy two months earlier, in April 2008. However, the toy that caused Blacker's injuries was sold after the ban went into effect.
In June 2009, New Jersey filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, Indiana Novelty International Inc., doing business as Kipp Brothers. In August of this year, New Jersey Superior Court Judge John Malone ordered Kipp Brothers to pay the state $54,300 in fines, $11,899 in attorney's fees and court costs, and $1,122 in investigative fees and costs. Kipp Brothers was also ordered to refrain from selling the toys online to any buyer with a New Jersey shipping address.
Kipp Brothers president Bob Glenn stated that while he would cooperate with the court orders, he planned to appeal the penalty, calling the judge's ruling excessive. "We did not know about the statute and we cooperated with them to the highest degree," Glenn said.
Three states - New Jersey, New York, and Illinois - currently ban the toys. In September 2003, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a safety advisory about the toys, but declined to ban them in nationwide after finding a "low but potential risk of strangulation".
Source: Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch, "Toy Injures Scotch Plains Child; Manufacturer Ordered to Pay Fine", Alan Neuhauser, 9 September 2010