Karin Stevens, Inc., a New York City designer and importer of ladies dresses and pant suits, has agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that it did not have a reasonable basis for the care instructions it placed on some of its garments, in violation of the FTC's Care Labeling Rule. According to the FTC's complaint, Karin Stevens failed to state on the "care label" for several of its garments, a regular care procedure needed for the ordinary use of the product. In some instances, the FTC alleged, the garments were damaged when cleaned according to their recommended cleaning instructions. In addition to requiring payment of the civil penalty, the settlement would prohibit Karin Stevens from violating the Care Labeling Rule in the future. The proposed settlement also contains various recordkeeping requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendant's compliance.
Karin Stevens sells its garments under the "Karin Stevens," "Karin Stevens Petite" and "KSL" labels to various retailers.
The Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers of clothing to attach care labels that state what regular care is needed for the ordinary use of the garment. If the label includes a dry cleaning instruction, the Rule requires that "it must also state at least one type of solvent that may be used," unless all commercially available types of solvents can be used. The FTC alleged that Karin Stevens mislabeled several of its garment styles by failing to specify a solvent or provide warnings about necessary modifications of the normal drycleaning process. The company recommended on its care labels that the garments at issue be dry cleaned, but when the most common dry cleaning solvent was used, the beaded trim on the garments was damaged.
The Commission vote to file the complaint and proposed settlement was 5-0. The complaint and proposed settlement were filed at the FTC's request by the Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 23, 2000. The consent decree is subject to court approval.
NOTE: This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the news release are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. Copies of the complaint and proposed consent decree will be available shortly from the FTC's Consumer Response Center. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. 982 3186)
(Civil Action No. 00CV-3923)