FindLaw Class Action and Mass Tort Center: Recalls: CPSC: CPSC Votes Lawn Dart Ban
NEWS from CPSC
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
|Office of Information and Public Affairs
||Washington, DC 20207|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|May 25, 1988
|Release # 88-031|
CPSC Votes Lawn Dart Ban
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved a
ban of certain types of lawn darts that present an unreasonable risk of
death or serious injury. The action, which covers those darts capable of
causing skull punctures, was approved by CPSC Chairman Terrence Scanlon and
Commissioner Anne Graham. Commissioner Carol Dawson voted against the
Three children -- ages 4,7, and 13 -- are known to have died in lawn
dart-related incidents. An estimated 670 lawn dart injuries are treated
each year in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Three quarters of the injured
are under 15 years old. The types of lawn darts associated with the three
deaths will be banned by the CPSC action.
The motion approved by the Commission authorizes the ban under the
Consumer Product Safety Act and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. A
draft Federal Register notice to propose the rule will be presented to the
Commission by June 30.
The Commission published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(ANPR) on Oct. 20, 1987, warning that it might either require the five
labeling and marketing actions earlier requested of industry or ban the
sale of lawn darts. On March 2, 1988, the Commission directed the staff to
prepare a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking -- the second step in the
congressionally-mandated three stage rulemaking process. Comments from the
public are encouraged.
The Commission has also initiated litigation against two retail
distributors of lawn darts. The CPSC entered into a consent decree with more
of the defendants, Sears, Roebuck and Company, on March 30, 1988, in which
the company agreed to stop selling lawn darts in all its U.S. outlets. A
consent decree with Menard's, a Wisconsin-based retail chain, is currently
being negotiated. In addition, an extensive survey of the nation's lawn
dart retailers is currently under way.
According to Wednesday's motion, the ban will concentrate on lawn
darts with a tip that are intended to stick in the ground, as well as those
that otherwise have a potential for causing skull puncture injuries from
"reasonably foreseeable use or misuse." Those lawn darts which do not cause
skull punctures will be exempted.
A vote on the proposed rule is expected in early July.
For more information, call the CPSC Office of Information and Public
Affairs at (301) 492-6580.
I am pleased the Commission has agreed to rid the marketplace of
unsafe lawn darts while leaving safer varieties available to American
consumers. The action taken today will remove those darts capable of
causing skull penetration injuries --while not affecting non-hazardous
types, which have been included in earlier regulatory proposals. I have
pursued this kind of resolution previously and believe the remedy
approved today is entirely reasonable.
Lawn Dart Statement of Chairman Terrence Scanlon
May 25, 1988
The current regulations precluding the sale of lawn darts in toy
stores and toy departments and requiring precautionary labeling have
been on the books since 1970 when they were adopted by the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA). While the most recent death associated with lawn
darts did not involve a violation of those regulations, a subsequent
study indicated that they were not being adhered to with sufficient
frequency. As a consequence, the Commission promptly asked the industry
to improve the labeling of lawn darts, stop marketing them in
conjunction with other games and redesign them to prevent edification
in order to reduce the hazard they present to young children. That
action was soon followed, in October 1987, by publication of an Advance
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which those potential remedies were
presented, along with the possibility of a total ban. Subsequently, the
Commission decided to proceed with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on
these options, plus it directed that legal action be taken against
repeat offenders of the current lawn dart regulations. Then, on March
30, 1988 the Commission announced that Sears Roebuck and Co. had agreed
to stop selling lawn darts in its stores to settle a complaint that it
had been in violation of those existing regulations.
This series of actions clearly indicate the Commission's timely and
continuing determination to deal with any dangers that may be associated
with lawn darts. However, the current estimate of 670 people per year
being treated in hospital emergency rooms for lawn dart-related injuries,
suggests that development of a safer lawn dart is desirable. The proposal
adopted today will further that objective without
necessarily depriving senior citizens and others of the enjoyment
associated with recreational use of lawn darts. And because of the
specificity of our solution, I feel confident that it could withstand a
court challenge. The Commission has detailed a permanent solution to
this safety problem, and has thus acted in the public interest.
From the start of my service on the Commission, I have advocated using
the "least drastic means" to achieve public safety goals. In the case of
lawn darts, for example, I have already voted, in an earlier public
session, to impose more stringent regulatory requirements on the
manufacturers and distributors of lawn darts. The Commission also
instructed its compliance and legal staffs to step up enforcement of
Opinion of Commissioner Carol G. Damson
Regarding Commission Action to Ban Lawn Darts
May 25, 1988
Now, a new proposal to ban the product is before us. Such federal
regulatory decisions are difficult at best. When the tragic death of a
young child is involved, they become even more difficult.
Our statutes require that certain criteria be met in regulatory
activities. When such criteria are met, I do not hesitate to use the full
power of the law when I believe it is in the public interest.
But we as Commissioners must keep in mind the nature of the power we
wield. Whenever we regulate, we limit freedom in some way. Moreover, our
decisions affect all Americans.
As a consumer, I would not purchase or use the kind of lawn darts
which are the target of the proposal before us. If I were a manufacturer
or a retailer, I would not produce or sell them. Yet, I am not prepared to
make that absolute choice for every other American.
To ban a product is to take the most extreme sanction which this body
can take. Such a tool should be used sparingly, and only after every other
means has been advanced to reduce the risk of injury. In my judgement, in
this case, all other means have not been thoroughly-pursued:. Based on my
understanding of our statutes, and in keeping with my philosophy of limited
government, I prefer the implementation of the remedies previously adopted
by the Commission.
The Chairman indicated at a briefing last week that he is willing
to support a motion to prohibit lawn darts similar to the motion I
offered in March. Since last week, the Chairman and I have discussed
this issue further and I will offer a motion today which the Chairman
has agreed to support that will propose to ban lawn darts. I am
extremely pleased that the Commission is finally taking the action it
should have taken months ago. My only regret is that because of the
lack of a second vote in March we did not pass this motion sooner.
Statement by Anne Graham, Commissioner
Decision to Ban Lawn Darts
May 25, 1988
As I have consistently stated the limited value lawn darts may have
as a recreational product is far outweighed by the number of serious
injuries. From January, 1978 to December 1986 lawn darts were responsible
for an estimated 6,100 hospital emergency-room treated injuries.
Approximately 81% of the victims were under 15 years old, and 50% were
under the age of ten.
In 1970 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposal
which consisted of an absolute ban on lawn darts. After being
petitioned, the FDA compromised and passed a conditional ban. Lawn darts
were to be kept out of the hands of children by marketing them only to
adults as a game of skill and with warning labels. Nonetheless, lawn
darts are still being sold in sporting good stores where unsuspecting
parents buy them for their children. Today, after 3 deaths and more
than 6,000 injuries it is clear that this measure designed to ensure
safety has failed. The conditional ban has not worked.
Today's motion, as did my March 2, 1988 motion, authorizes a Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking to ban lawn darts. The language of the notice
should make it clear that lawn darts causing puncture wound injuries are
banned totally. The notice will exclude those products which, for
sample, do not have pointed tips, are not intended to stick in the
ground, and thus do not have the potential to cause puncture wounds.
I believe that when the Government acts it should do so reasonably
and responsibly. In the case of lawn darts, eighteen years of history
shows us that the original proposal to ban lawn darts was correct...
Today's motion recognizes that the conditional ban has not marked and
that the original 1970 proposal to ban lawn darts was the right one.
believe that this measure is prudent, necessary and will correctly I
address the public interest.
I dissented from the Commission's decision to implement certain
non-regulatory actions with regard to lawn darts because I believe these
actions will not adequately reduce the hazard presented to children by
this product. Based on the information provided by the Commission's
directorates with technical expertise on this issue, I believe the only
remedy that will address this hazard is a revocation of the exemption
to the ban of lawn darts for use by children. The Commission's
technical staff has concluded that efforts to market lawn darts for
adult use only (such as those contained in the current banning
regulation) do not prevent use by children. Thus, the sales prohibition
and labeling provisions in the current mandatory standard, either alone
or in conjunction with the five actions requested of the industry by the
Commission and authorized by the Commission today, cannot be expected to
accomplish their intended purpose -- namely to prevent potential serious
injuries from lawn dart use by children.
Statement on Lawn Dart Decision
Anne Graham, Commissioner
March 2, 1988
The motion I offered today would have authorized a notice of
proposed rulemaking to ban lawn darts, but at the same time make clear
that if a firm develops a product which does not present a puncture
hazard to children, the firm can applv for an exemption from the ban.
The staff believes this course of action is an effective allocation of
Commission staff resources and cost effective. Of equal importance, I
believe this course of action is reasonable and responsible and would
result in the nest expeditious relief to consumers.
Anne Graham, Commissioner
March 2, 1988
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