General Hardy Myers today announced multi-state, antitrust settlements totaling $50 million with national retailer Toys 'R' Us and toy manufacturers Mattel and The Little Tikes Company. The Oregon Department of Justice helped negotiate the settlements, which will result in the distribution of toys worth more than $389,000 to needy children in Oregon for the next three holiday seasons and approximately $150,000 in cash for children's programs.
"Oregon non-profit organizations and charities, which struggle every December to provide enough toys for needy children, can look forward to a bountiful distribution for the next three holiday seasons thanks to these settlements," Myers said. "Not only will there be more toys for our children but also money in the form of grants to educational programs that benefit children."
The settlements resolve the final portion of a lawsuit filed in 1997 by the Attorneys General of 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico alleging that the defendants conspired for more than ten years to withhold popular toys from low margin warehouse clubs that undercut Toys 'R' Us prices. According to the lawsuit, the defendants, including Hasbro, Inc., reached illegal agreements to limit the sale of certain toys to warehouse clubs and to sell other popular toys to warehouse clubs only in combination packs. As a result, warehouse clubs could not compete in price with Toys 'R' Us, and consumers paid more for the toys. Hasbro settled with the multi-state group in December 1998 for $5.95 million in toys and cash. Oregon received $42,000 in toys from the Hasbro settlement.
Under the terms of today's settlements, Oregon will receive $321,300 in toys from Toys 'R' Us, $58,700 in toys from Mattel, the nation's largest toy manufacturer, and $9,400 in toys from The Little Tikes Company. Oregon also will recover its attorney fees and investigative costs. In addition, it is a condition of the Toys 'R' Us settlement that the toys distributed to states not include toy guns or depict violent activities.
Attorney General Myers will announce details of Oregon's toy distribution by the U.S. Marine Corps' "Toys for Tots" program next fall. Information concerning applications for grants to youth programs will be available soon.
For more information concerning these settlements and other consumer protection issues, consumers may contact the Attorney General's hotline by calling (503) 378-4320 or (503) 229-5576 (Portland only) between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday or by writing Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection, 1162 Court Street, N.E., Salem, Oregon 97310.
Peter Cogswell, (503) 378-6002