Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro: Outraged Parents Lash Back at Thomas Manufacturer With a Lawsuit

Companies' ability to protect consumers and stay true to its claims is in

serious question

Jun 22, 2007, 01:00 ET from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

    CHICAGO and SEATTLE, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Today a Chicago parent
 filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against RC2 (Nasdaq:   RCRC), the
 'Thomas the Train' toy manufacturer on behalf of all purchasers after
 learning the toys were manufactured using highly toxic lead paint putting
 children at a serious health risk.
     According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois,
 RC2 distributed at least 1.5 million toys containing lead paint between
 January 2005 and June 2007. Among the products in question is the popular
 Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway.
     Despite marketing its toys as 'Safe and Quality Playthings' RC2
 distributed toys that had red and yellow surface paint containing lead,
 which is extremely toxic if ingested, the complaint states.
     On June 14, 2007, the Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered a
 voluntary recall of the toys. Despite the recall, the company is not
 offering a reimbursement program for the dangerous toys, but will exchange
 the dangerous one for a new, ostensibly safer toy.
     "We think RC2's response to this dangerous health issue is far short of
 what is necessary," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman
 Sobol Shapiro and the attorney representing the named plaintiffs. "There
 are legions of children that may have ingested lead paint from these toys,
 and we think the company should stand up to its responsibility to help
 identify these kids."
     Named plaintiff Channing Hesse purchased a number of the lead-tainted
 toys for her toddler boys beginning in 2006 believing the toys were safe.
 Now, according to Berman, she wonders about the long-term health effects on
 her children.
     "The biggest horror of this story is that parents know their toddlers
 often put toys in their mouths,' Berman noted. "Consumers trust that
 companies like RC2 will live up to the promise it makes in its advertising,
 promising "safe and quality playthings."
     The complaint states that children under six years of age will absorb
 about 50 percent of the lead they ingest and exposure can lead to a wide
 range of health effects, including IQ deficits, learning disabilities,
 behavioral problems, stunted or slowed growth and impaired hearing.
     "We know that lead poisoning affects children differently but experts
 agree that there is no such thing as a 'safe' level of lead exposure," said
     RC2 states on its Web site "We understand that what matters most to
 parents is keeping their children healthy, happy and safe. What mattes most
 to us is helping parents to just that by offering products for every stage
 of your child's development ... "
     Since there is no effective treatment available for lead poisoning the
 CPSC has declared that "toys and other articles intended for use by
 children that bear lead-containing paint are banned hazardous products."
     RC2 designs, produces and markets a wide range of infant and toddler
 toys and accessories including Soothie bottles, sippy and straw cups,
 feeding accessories and healthcare products and markets under The First
 Years and Lamaze brands, Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Winnie the
 Pooh, John Deere, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street.
     The filed suit claims RC2 violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and
 Consumer Fraud Laws of other states, breached the implied warranty by
 selling goods that were unfit, is strictly liable for damages and acted
 negligently in product design.
     About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
     The law firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is based in Seattle with
 offices in Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco.
 Since the firm's founding in 1993, it has developed a nationally recognized
 practice in class-action and complex litigation. Among recent successes,
 HBSS has negotiated a pending $300 million settlement as lead counsel in
 the DRAM memory antitrust litigation; a $340 million recovery on behalf of
 Enron employees which is awaiting distribution; a $150 million settlement
 involving charges of illegally inflated charges for the drug Lupron, and
 served as co-counsel on the Visa/Mastercard litigation which resulted in a
 $3 billion settlement, the largest anti-trust settlement to date. HBSS also
 served as counsel in a $850 million settlement in the Washington Public
 Power Supply litigation and represented Washington and 12 other states in
 lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest
 settlement in the history of litigation. For a complete listing of HBSS
 cases, visit http://www.hbsslaw.com.
     Steve Berman (206) 623-7292
     Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
     Mark Firmani (206) 443-9357
     Firmani + Associates Inc.

SOURCE Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro