Mattel (MAT) agreed to pay a $2.3 million fine to the Consumer Product Safety Commission for selling toys with excessive levels of lead paint. The toys were made in China and Mattel's recall of 21 million of them in 2007 made headlines across the country.
After the punishment had been settled, CPSC acting chairman Thomas Moore commented, "This penalty should serve notice to toy makers that CPSC is committed to the safety of children, to reducing their exposure to lead, and to the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act."
Given the size of the problem that the recall created and the amount of government work that certainly went into the investigation of the matter, the fine seems remarkably small.
It would be nice to know how Mattel negotiated a punishment that was only ten cents per toy recalled. Some companies just get lucky. Given the scope of the violation, the fine should have been bigger.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.