“No one intentionally sold a toxic toy to Mrs. Monje”

Aqua Dots photo

Well, I would certainly hope not. But that really is not the point. The point is Spin Master manufactured a toy, Aqua Dots, which was tainted with the date rape drug.  Children, who tend to put things in their mouth, ingested the drug and became ill.  Spin Master failed to tell anyone about reports of children being hospitalized after ingesting the Aqua Dots.  When this came to light, the company agreed to pay a $1.3 million dollar fine.   And last week, a jury awarded a family $435,000 because their son fell into a coma and continues to have residual problems after ingesting the date rape drug from the Aqua Dot toy.   So how does Spin Master defend all of this?

Well, of course, there is the statement that “no one intentionally sold a toxic toy to Mrs. Monje.”   In almost all injury cases, the injury victim does not have to prove the at-fault party intentionally did anything wrong.   In Tennessee, to win a product liability case against a product manufacturer, the injury victim must show the product was either defective or unreasonably dangerous (as defined by statute), and that defect or unreasonably dangerous characteristic of the product caused some injury. Clearly, a toy coated with the date rape drug that causes a small child to lapse into a coma and need ongoing medical care meets the test.

Of course, if the at-fault party could prove Spin Master intentionally coated the toy with the date rape drug then they might be able to recover punitive damages. But from what I have read about this case, it does not appear this was part of the allegations. As such, a statement that “no one intentionally sold a toxic toy” is really not helpful and is actually a misleading as it suggests intentional was the legal threshold for a recovery or somehow relevant to the outcome.

Let’s move on to Spin Masters other line of defense. Spin Master does not actually manufacture the Aqua Dots toy. Instead, they have the toy made by a Chinese manufacturer and Spin Master is just the North America distributor. So, Spin Master blamed the Chinese company claiming it secretly sprayed the toys with the date rape chemical.   In Tennessee, this type of distribution chain presents a real problem for folks injured by defective or unreasonably dangerous products. Under Tennessee law, distributors like Spin Master are allowed to be sued for injuries caused by defective or unreasonably dangerous products only under certain limited circumstances. Thus, the injury victim must pursue the foreign manufacturer which is extremely difficult under current law.

Spin Master chose to do business with this Chinese company and then distribute the products under the Spin Master name. I suspect Spin Master selected this particular Chinese company because they could manufacture the product cheaply. Of course, cheap is easy when there are no safety regulations and you are using toxic chemicals in your manufacturing process.   Under these circumstances, I cannot muster any sympathy for Spin Master as they got what they paid for.  My sympathy lies with the children and the families who were hurt by this toxic toy and for those same children and families who live in states like Tennessee where they will get hurt again by business-friendly laws that will make it difficult for them to receive compensation from the company that put this toy into the U.S Market, Spin Master.

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