NEWARK – Superior Court Judge John F. Malone has ordered an Indiana-based company to pay New Jersey $67,321.50 after finding the company offered for sale and/or sold yo-yo waterballs to consumers here despite a 2008 state law banning the potentially hazardous toys.
The Office of the Attorney General, through its Division of Consumer Affairs, in June 2009 filed suit against Indiana Novelty International Inc., which does business as Kipp Brothers. The state contended that the company violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, Advertising Regulations and Yo-Yo Waterballs Act by advertising, offering for sale and selling yo-yo waterballs to New Jersey consumers after the state law banning such actions took effect in April 2008.
In granting the state’s summary judgment motion, Judge Malone, presiding in Union County, found that Indiana Novelty International Inc. violated both laws and the regulations and ordered the company to pay $54,300 in civil penalties plus reimbursement to the state for $11,899.50 in attorneys’ fees and costs and $1,122 for investigative fees and costs. The company also was ordered to comply with all applicable state laws.
“Children have been injured by yo-yo waterballs, including here in New Jersey. I’m pleased that the court found that we proved our case and awarded an appropriate penalty,” Attorney General Paula T. Dow said.
Yo-yo waterballs are inexpensive toys that contain a rubber ball filled with liquid attached to a rubber cord. The cord has a finger loop on its end and can be stretched about three feet when swung.
On June 3, 2008, then five-year-old Sydney Blacker of Scotch Plains sustained strangulation injuries from a Kipp Brothers yo-yo waterball that she received at her school fair. The yo-yo waterball had been purchased from Kipp Brothers by her school’s Parent Teacher Association in May, after the Yo-Yo Waterballs Act went into effect. Sydney sustained burst blood vessels before her mother was able to remove the wrapped cord from around her neck.
“Anyone who sees yo-yo waterballs offered as a prize or gift or for sale in local stores should file a complaint with us,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs. “This is an issue impacting the safety of children, one that companies can easily address by adhering to our law and not selling yo-yo waterballs in New Jersey.”
Those found selling or offering to sell yo-yo waterballs face an initial civil penalty of up to $10,000 and up to $20,000 for subsequent violations.
Deputy Attorney General Jah-Juin Ho of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section represented the state in this action.
Consumers can file complaints with the Division of Consumer Affairs online at http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/ocp/ocpform.htm or by calling 1-800-242-5846 or 1-973-504-6200.
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