If your kids are anything like my three boys, at some point in their life, they will undoubtedly fall under the spell of a small wooden tank engine by the name of Thomas. For those parents who are in the know, Thomas & Friends needs no introduction. Endless lengths of overpriced wooden train track and a painted wooden table designed to replicate the “countryside” is a staple in any respectable child-rearer’s home.
For the uninitiated, Thomas the Tank Engine is a blue smiling train engine who is endowed with a set of stunningly anthromorphic features, including rosy cheeks, a big smile, and (oddly enough) eyebrows. Thomas and his many friends, who include a litany of other tank engines, train cars, and a station master named Sir Topem Hat) spend their days engaging in a variety of adventures. Whether a child follows the video productions of Thomas & Friends, or just follows his/her own imagination, Thomas generally finds himself learning a good lesson or two by the end of the day. Although the world of Thomas & Friends is generally an idyllic one, there has recently been a negative side effect of its immense popularity. The fact of the matter is that Thomas appeals mainly to very young children. Unfortunately, children of that age also tend to put small items in their mouth on a regular basis. It is for this reason that the recent recall of Thomas & Friends was necessary.
In June, 2007, Illinios based RC2 Corporation recalled 1.5 million units of the popular Thomas & Friends railway toys. These Thomas & Friends toys were allegedly covered with lead paint.
This month, July, 2007, RC2 Corporation was hit with a federal class-action lawsuit in Chicago on Tuesday that is seeking an injunction against the sale of its metal train toys. The lawsuit is seeking a court order requiring RC2 to “cease production and distribution of all metal toys” reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission or reported in the media “to have possibly been contaminated with lead paint.” The lawsuit, filed on behalf of consumers who have purchased the toys or received them as gifts, also is seeking a court order to notify all sellers and distributors of metal toys “to remove such toys from their shelves and to cease sale and distribution … until their safety can be established.”
A spokeswoman for RC2 issued a statement in response to the lawsuit saying, “The only items subject to our previously announced voluntary recall are the 26 wooden products listed and pictured on our Web site. They represent about four percent of total wooden railway units sold by the company domestically during recall period.”
“Though some products in our metal train toy line are similar in appearance to products in the wooden line, they are smaller in scale. None of the metal products is subject to recall. They were produced using different manufacturing and painting processes in different contract manufacturing facilities.”The firm said in addition to replacing all recalled products returned by consumers and reimbursing them for return postage, “we are providing them with a bonus train car as a thank you for returning the recalled items.”
The lawsuit filed Tuesday is the seventh federal class-action case brought against RC2, according to a search of the federal electronic filing database. The suit also named as defendants HIT Entertainment, the London-based children’s entertainment company that licenses the Thomas & Friends railway toys; APAX Partners, the private-equity group that owns HIT; and Learning Curve Brands, Inc., the subsidiary of RC2 that markets the railway toys.
For more information about the recall, and for details of the specific products affected within Learning Curve’s Thomas & Friends ™ Wooden Railway products range, and for instructions on how to return the products and obtain replacements, please go to the RC2 recall website (http://recalls.rc2.com) or call RC2’s Customer Service Line at 866.725.4407 between 8am-5pm CST Monday – Thursday or 8am-11am CST on Friday. For more information your rights as a consumer against a negligent manufacturer, designer, or distributor of a recalled product, contact Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer, Stephen D. Counts at (714)851-2890 or (949)851-0222. You may also visit Attorney Counts’ website at www.OrangeCountyInjury.com.