Gov. Cuomo Signs Bill to Protect Kids from Dangerous Chemicals in Products

On February 7, 2020, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation intended to protect children from dangerous chemicals in toys and other consumer products for sale, offered for sale, or distributed in the state. The Child Safe Products Act will require the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to maintain a list of dangerous chemicals that manufacturers must publicly disclose if used in children's products.

The law targets toxic chemicals that may cause cancer, asthma, reproductive harm, developmental injury (such as negative impact on IQs or Intelligence Quotients), and neurological damage in kids. Information from manufacturers about the use of listed chemicals in particular products will be publicly available online.

By 2023, the most dangerous chemicals, including asbestos, mercury, cobalt, formaldehyde, and benzene, must be phased out from children's products, and it will be illegal to sell children's products containing these chemicals after that time. The bill also creates a children's product safety council to recommend the agency consider certain chemicals for ban or required disclosure.

(As of February 2020, this topic is again before the legislature for a clarifying amendment about the role of "trace contaminants.")

New York Product Liability Law

It will probably come as a surprise to some New Yorkers that dangerous chemicals are present in some children's products now and that there is a need for the new law. Unfortunately, kids have been exposed to and harmed by substances that are potentially dangerous, such as asbestos in toys and flame retardants in clothing and bedding.

New York product liability law already allows lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of defective products that harm consumers because of a dangerous condition, failure to warn of dangerous propensity, or manufacturing or design defects. Legal remedies may be based on negligence, strict liability (where the defendant is responsible whether or not it was negligent), breach of warranty, misrepresentation or fraud, and other legal bases.

In a successful product liability suit, the defendant must compensate victims for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Legal Counsel

An experienced product liability lawyer can determine if a lawsuit should be filed against a company for making a dangerous or defective product that killed or seriously injured someone.

If a child is harmed by a dangerous chemical in a toy or other covered product in violation of the new legislation--such as if the injuring substance was banned or the manufacturer failed to disclose the presence of a chemical on the required disclosure list--that violation of law can be used against a defendant in a product liability lawsuit.

Hopefully, the new law will make children's toys safer in New York.

The product liability attorneys at Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP, represent people across New York State and northern Pennsylvania injured by dangerous or defective products. We have offices in Binghamton, Ithaca, and other towns in the region, as well as in Montrose, Pennsylvania.