Vermont has sued the retail chain Dollar Tree for allegedly violating consumer protection laws prohibiting the sale of children's products that may contain lead.

The Virginia-based national discount chain agreed in 2010 to stop selling children's jewelry products or other items containing lead above 300 parts per million. Lead is a chemical used to treat plastics and it is toxic when consumed.

According to a complaint filed against the company on July 7, Dollar Tree has sold more than 30,000 jewelry items in Vermont at its stores in Barre, Bennington, Burlington, Derby/Newport and Rutland.

The 2010 settlement agreement did not explicitly define jewelry, but prohibited items "commonly understood to be jewelry," such as bracelets, earrings, rings and necklaces.

Vermont is asking the company to pay up to $10,000 for each violation of the consumer protection law and provide appropriate relief to Vermont consumers. And for a second time, the attorney general is demanding that the company stop selling children's jewelry in Vermont.

Randy Guiler, vice president of investor relations at Dollar Tree, said the company wouldn't comment on pending litigation.

The Vermont Legislature in 2008 passed a ban on lead in children's products (except those preempted by federal law) and the Attorney General's Office enforces the law under its consumer protection law. Gov. Peter Shumlin this year signed into law new regulations requiring manufacturers to label or remove other toxic substances from children's products.


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