Venus Enterprises, Inc., a Jersey City, New Jersey, importer of women's clothing, has agreed to pay a $4,000 civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it mislabeled the care instructions on the labels of various imported blouses, skirts, and dresses made of rayon. The clothes shrank significantly when consumers hand-washed them as instructed, the FTC said. The settlement, which also applies to company president Balram Hingorani, prohibits the defendants from violating the FTC's Care Labeling Rule in the future.
Venus sells clothing under the brand names La Femme and Fore Front. The garments at issue were sold through retailers such as Woolworth, Value City, Marianne and Family Dollars. Venus also has offices in New York City.
Under the FTC's Care Labeling Rule, manufacturers and importers of clothing must state on a care label what regular care is needed for the ordinary use of the garment -- in general, either a washing or dry cleaning instruction. They also must have reliable evidence that the garment will not be harmed when cleaned according to the label instruction, under the rule. Violations of the rule can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. In this case, the settlement would impose a $30,000 civil penalty, but waive all except $4,000 based on the defendants' financial condition.
The FTC staff noted that garments made of 100 percent rayon fabric, unless preshrunk, usually are labeled "dry clean" because of their propensity to shrink when washed. Industry experts state that rayon can be preshrunk, but FTC staff said it is an expensive process and generally not done for less expensive rayon garments.
The proposed consent judgment was filed today by the Department of Justice at the request of the FTC. It is subject to court approval. The FTC vote to authorize filing was 5-0.
NOTE: This consent judgment is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and proposed consent judgment as well as a variety of information for consumers about care label requirements are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. 962 3056)