ONeill Settles FTC Charges; $10,000 Civil Penalty for Mislabeled Wetsuits

$10,000 Civil Penalty For Mislabeled Wetsuits

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The largest seller of wetsuits in the United States has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it failed to accurately list the fiber content of its garments in violation of federal law and a previous FTC consent order. O’Neill is a Santa Cruz, California-based company that imports, manufactures and wholesales textiles, including wetsuits constructed of a rubber substance called neoprene enclosed between two layers of knit fabric.

The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (TFPIA) requires that textiles carry a stamp, tag or label to identify the fiber content, including identification of any fiber exceeding five percent in multi-fiber garments. According to the FTC complaint, in 1992 the Commission issued a consent order with O’Neill settling allegations that the company violated the TFPIA by mislabeling certain wetsuits. Since that time, O’Neill has sold thousands of wetsuits labeled as 100% nylon bonded to neoprene even though they also contained polyester bonded to neoprene, according to the agency. To settle the FTC charges, O’Neill will pay $10,000 and will be permanently barred from future violations of the FTC order, which requires compliance with the TFPIA.

The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent decree was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Sept. 27, 1996 by U.S. Attorney Michael J. Yamaguchi at the request of the FTC. It is subject to court approval.

NOTE: A consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When signed by the judge, a consent decree carries the force of law with respect to future actions.

Copies of the complaint, consent decree and the 1991 order are available 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 news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at:


(FTC File No. C3352)

(Civil Action No. XXX)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
Justin Dingfelder,
Bureau of Consumer Protection