WASHINGTON, D.C. — The company behind T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods has agreed to pay $13 million to settle charges that they sold products from 21 recalls, including those behind infant deaths.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that The TJX Companies, Inc. agreed to pay the civil penalty for selling, offering for sale and distributing previously recalled consumer products. Federal law prohibits this practice.
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 were sold through the company’s brick-and-mortar retail stores, including T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and online. The majority of the products, the CPSC said, were recalled due to the risk of infant suffocation and death.
Other products included a portable speaker that has multiple reports of it exploding, hoverboards with 16 reports of burn injuries and knives that broke that caused multiple lacerations requiring stitches.
In November 2019, the company filed a joint news release with the CPSC about the issue saying they sold 19 different products. After the announcement, the CPSC said the company reported to staff that it found three additional products.
In addition to the penalty, TJX said they would maintain a compliance program to make sure they comply with federal regulations. They also said they would file annual reports regarding the compliance program and system of internal controls for a period of five years.
Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair of the CPSC, said the $13 million penalty is the maximum they could have sought if they pursued the case in court. He said this cap is a serious impediment to their efforts to deter large corporate actors from violating consumer protection laws.
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. In order to best protect the public, I urge Congress to remove or dramatically increase the existing limits on CPSC’s civil penalty authority.Alexander Hoehn-Saric, CSPC Chair
Despite the restrictions, Hoehn-Saric said the penalty is a strong statement from an agency that has issued very few penalties in recent years.
Hoehn-Saric said the civil penalty is not the end of the case. The CPSC will watch the company and act again if they fail to comply with its commitments or engages in unlawful activities under CPSC jurisdiction.
The settlement does not constitute an admission by TJX that they knowingly violated the Consumer Product Safety Act.