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FISHER-PRICE MUST PUT WARNINGS ON 'LITTLE PEOPLE'

Fisher-Price has agreed to pay New York State $25,000 and to change its warning label on a toy that has caused the choking deaths of six children.

The East Aurora toy maker will attach stickers on boxes of plastic figurines called "Little People," according to a settlement with the state Attorney General's office announced Monday.

The new warning specifies that choking can result if the figurines are swallowed.

Even though New York Attorney General Robert Abrams negotiated the settlement, it will affect the sale of Little People nationwide.

Little People boxes already warn that, "Regardless of age, this product is not intended for children who still put objects in their mouths."

The new warning will read: "Caution: The figures could present a choking hazard to children, regardless of age, who may put things in their mouths."

The warning stickers will be placed on Little People boxes starting next month. The warning will be printed on boxes next year.

The state "has asked us to be more specific about what the hazard is," said Fisher Price spokeswoman Carol Blackley.

Abrams said the failure to cite choking in the current warning is a violation of the state's General Business Law. That law prohibits deceptive trade practices, Abrams said.

More than 670 million Little People have been sold during the last 20 years.

In all but one case, the six deaths and other serious injuries involving the toy have involved children less than two years of age, Ms. Blackley said. The toy is recommended for children ages two to six.

The company also has agreed to pay the state $25,000. The fee is largely a penalty, but is also designed to reimburse the state for its costs in this matter, a spokesman for Abrams said.

And the case is not over yet, the spokesman said. Abrams has renewed a petition to the federal Consumer Protection Safety Commission seeking a change in the federal regulations regarding the size of toys permitted for children under three years of age.

His petition in 1987, which was prompted by complaints about Little People, was denied by the commission.

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