Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

June 28, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

Money Part of 1998 Settlement of Antitrust Action vs. Toy Manufacturers

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., presented Dr. William E. Trueheart, president and chief executive officer of Reading Is Fundamental®(RIF) with a check for more than $250,000 at ceremonies in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. earlier today. The money is part of a 1998 settlement in an antitrust action against four toy manufacturers.

"The prior actions of these toy manufacturers affected children the most. Therefore, we wanted to make sure that we obtained an award that would benefit children," Attorney General Curran said. "This money will ensure that the children of Maryland have every resource, every book, and every opportunity to read and to nurture their desires to learn."

Founded in 1966, RIF develops and delivers children's and family literacy programs that help prepare young children for reading and motivate school-age children to read regularly. RIF programs will provide new, free books and other essential literacy resources to more than 5 million children in 2000. Nationwide, RIF programs provide more than 13 million books per year to children. RIF relies on federal, corporate and foundation partnerships and individual contributions to continue its goal of transforming children into readers. The check presented by Attorney General Curran will help do just that. The gift of $250,000 will:

  • ($175,000) purchase 195 lending library collections, a total of 19,500 books serving nearly 4,900 children.

  • ($25,000 through mini-grants) purchase 11,360 books for ownership for approximately 6,000 children.

"By dedicating funds from the antitrust settlement, the Attorney General of Maryland has joined forces with the nation's oldest and largest literacy organization to provide books to children throughout the state," said Trueheart. "With this support for library collections and book distributions, children will continue to benefit from the joy of reading or owning a book. Because of similar efforts across the country, RIF is working to build a nation of readers who can best meet the demands of the 21st century."

Baltimore Reads director of children's initiatives, Robert Clark, attended the check presentation at Baltimore's James McHenry Elementary School, where Attorney General Curran read to children in the RIF program, following the ceremony. Baltimore Reads is collaborating with RIF in an effort to help its nationally-acclaimed literacy programs maximize the benefits of the financial award. Baltimore Reads targets educationally disadvantaged children, adults and families by providing services through the Ripken Learning Center and the Reading Edge.

Baltimore Reads executive director Maggi G. Gaines said, "Baltimore Reads is pleased to be working collaboratively with RIF to be certain that more children in our community have the opportunity to own books. A child in the company of a book and of a reading partner is a wonderful gift."

According to the 1998 lawsuit, the warehouse clubs, which often undercut Toys "R" Us prices, were subjected to an illegal agreement among toy manufacturers to ensure that the warehouse clubs could obtain certain popular toys only in "combination packs," which typically cost consumers more. As a result of the settlement, Attorney General Curran has also enlisted several charities statewide to help distribute toys to needy children at Christmas in 1998 and 1999. He will do the same in 2000 and 2001.