WASHINGTON, D.C. (WXIN) – The company behind TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods has agreed to pay $13 million to settle charges that they sold products that had been recalled, including those removed from the market because they posed a risk of infant death.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that The TJX Companies, Inc. had sold, distributed or offered approximately 1,200 units of recalled products from 21 separate recalls from March 2014 through October 2019, the CSPC said.
For more than five years, TJX knowingly sold, offered for sale, and distributed dangerous recalled products through its website and its retail stores. These sales were illegal and put hazardous products into the hands and homes of unsuspecting consumers. Hundreds of inclined sleepers that pose a suffocation risk to infants as well as a wide range of other products that present choking hazards, laceration hazards and fire risks were sold after their recall date, in violation of federal law.Alexander Hoehn-Saric, CSPC Chair
The products, which included Kids II Rocking Sleepers and Fisher-Price and Rock ‘n Play Sleepers, were sold at TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods locations as well as online.
Most of these items had been recalled “due to the risk of infant suffocation and death,” the CPSC said.
Other recalled products included a portable speaker model that posed an explosion hazard, hoverboards linked to 16 reports of burn injuries and knives that broke and caused multiple lacerations requiring stitches.
TJX acknowledged the sale of these items in November 2019 in a joint news release with the CPSC. At the time, TJX said it had become aware of the sale of 19 different products that had been recalled between 2014 and 2019. The company later reported finding additional recalled products for sale during that time.
Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair of the CPSC, said the $13 million penalty is “near the statutory maximum” that the CPSC agency would have been able to ask for in court. Still, Hoehn-Saric worried the fine would not be enough to deter other companies from avoiding similar mistakes.
“With the market capitalization of the largest retailers calculated in the billions, a penalty of $13 million or even $100 million could easily become a cost of doing businesses,” wrote Hoehn-Saric in a statement issued Tuesday. “In order to best protect the public, I urge Congress to remove or dramatically increase the existing limits on CPSC’s civil penalty authority.”
As part of the settlement, TJX will also be maintaining a compliance program to make sure the company follows the proper protocol for recalled items, and file annual reports regarding the compliance program for the next five years.
“At TJX, product safety is very important to us and we prohibit the sale of recalled items in our stores,” TJX said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “We deeply regret that in some instances between 2014 and 2019, recalled products were not properly removed from our sales floors despite the recall processes that we had in place.”
NewsNation business contributor Lydia Moynihan said the company hasn’t actually admitted wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
“Whether or not it was intentional, because they were making so much money selling these infant sleepers that have been linked to more than 50 infant deaths, or whether it was just a mistake, it’s extremely alarming that happened for the span of five years,” she said on “Morning in America.” “And this $13 million fine is really little more than a hand slap for a company that has a market capitalization of $72 billion.”
“Does this actually teach them a lesson?” Moynihan asked.