A Los Angeles federal court judge ruled on December 9, 2008 that toymakers and retailers whose products contain lead and small parts dangerous to young children cannot escape liability just because they offered danger-free replacements. According to this Associated Press news report, U.S. District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer ruled that efforts made by toy manufacturers and retailers to issue voluntary recalls of dangerous and defective toys did not preclude plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit from seeking damages.
Judge Fischer said these companies will not be shielded from liability even if they recalled the toys and handed out lead-free replacements. Plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit included parents from San Diego, New York and Seattle who bought these toys, which were marketed and sold as safe, but later recalled because they contained excessive levels of lead. Most of these toys were made in China. Mattel recalled 20 million toys worldwide including a lot of famous brands because the surface paint on them contained too much lead. Excessive levels of lead cause serious brain damage in young children and have several long-term health effects.