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Division of Consumer Affairs
Press Release

Attorney General
Anne Milgram
Division of Consumer Affairs, Director
David Szuchman
   
For Immediate Release:
June 22, 2009
For Further Information Contact:
Jeff Lamm, 973-504-6327
 
Indiana Company Sued for Selling Banned
Yo-Yo Waterballs in New Jersey;
Scotch Plains Girl Injured by Company's Product

NEWARK - The Office of the Attorney General, through its Division of Consumer Affairs, has filed suit against an Indiana company for selling yo-yo waterballs in New Jersey in violation of the state law effective on April 1, 2008 that bans the offer for sale and sale of the toy.

Indiana Novelty International, Inc., which does business as Kipp Brothers, allegedly offered for sale and/or sold yo-yo waterballs to consumers in New Jersey through September, 2008.

On June 3, 2008, 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 by her school's Parent Teacher Association in May, after the Yo-Yo Waterballs Act went into effect.

“The strangulation risk from yo-yo waterballs is real, as Sydney Blacker can attest. The Legislature passed, and Governor Corzine signed, the Yo-Yo Waterballs Act into law to safeguard our children," Attorney General Milgram said. "We will hold those who violate the law accountable.''

Yo-yo waterballs are inexpensive yo-yo 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.

The state's three-count complaint, filed last week in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, in Union County, alleges that the defendant violated the state's Consumer Fraud Act, Advertising Regulations and Yo-Yo Waterballs Act. The allegations include:

  • Advertising, selling and/or offering for sale yo-yo waterballs to consumers in New Jersey through the Kipp website when the sale and offer for sale of such merchandise is illegal;
  • Advertising, selling and/or offering for sale yo-yo waterballs to consumers in New Jersey through Kipp direct mail catalogs when the sale and offer for sale of such merchandise is illegal;
  • Selling and/or offering for sale yo-yo waterballs to consumers in New Jersey through Kipp's toll-free number and/or toll-free fax number when the sale and offer for sale of such merchandise is illegal; and
  • Advertising yo-yo waterballs through the Kipp website and Kipp direct mail catalogs in such as manner as to lead consumers to believe that the offer for sale and sale of yo-yo waterballs in New Jersey is legal.

“Purchasers had to provide their addresses when buying yo-yo waterballs and the defendants knew they were transacting business with consumers located in New Jersey. There is no excuse for violating the law and placing our children at risk,” said David Szuchman, Consumer Affairs Director.

Purchasers of Kipp Brothers' yo-yo waterballs after April 1, 2008 included a Shrewsbury dental practice and the Peapack Gladstone Library, among others.

The state's lawsuit seeks civil penalties against the defendants, restitution for affected consumers, future compliance with the state's laws and regulations and reimbursement of the state's investigative and legal costs.

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.

Anyone who sees yo-yo waterballs offered for sale in New Jersey can contact the state Division of Consumer Affairs online at www.nj.gov/oag/ca/ocp/ocpform.htm or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within N.J.) or 973-504-6200.

Consumer Affairs investigators found and confiscated more than 1,200 yo-yo waterballs at boardwalk vendors along the Jersey Shore during inspections conducted as part of a task force last year. Another 245 waterballs being offered for sale at retail stores also were removed from shelves.

Deputy Attorney General Jah-Juin Ho of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section is representing the state in this action.

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