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

December 18, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., was joined by representatives from nearly 40 statewide charities at the United Way of Central Maryland's Community Resource Bank in Elkridge, where approximately $85,000 worth of toys were distributed as a result of a 1998 antitrust action brought by Curran's office against Toys "R" Us, Mattel, Inc., Hasbro and the Little Tikes Company.

The first allotment of toys arrived at the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in Baltimore in October, totaling $90,000, which was distributed to needy Maryland children served by various charitable organizations.

The antitrust suit filed by Curran, 44 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, alleged that the companies conspired to withhold popular toys from low margin warehouse clubs that undercut Toys "R" Us prices. According to the lawsuit, the companies did this by illegally agreeing to make certain toys available to the warehouse clubs only in "combination packs." These combination packs typically cost consumers more and made it difficult for consumers to comparison shop.

As part of the settlement, Toys "R" Us, Hasbro, Mattel and Little Tikes admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to give Maryland some $350,000 in toys. The companies also gave the state $245,000 in cash, which was donated earlier this year to Reading is Fundamental in cooperation with Baltimore Reads.

"This was a very rewarding settlement because for three years we have been able to make a lot of children happy," Attorney General Curran said. "Too often the cases we settle result in restitution for deserving but faceless people. I feel good that we were able to put a lot of smiles on kids' faces again this year."

United Way of Central Maryland and Toys for Tots assisted Curran in the selection of charities and the distribution of the toys.

"The holidays should be a magical time for every child. Few things are more exciting for children than a new toy. We are pleased to be part of making the holidays brighter for our region's needy children by distributing these free toys to agencies that serve them," said Larry E. Walton, President and Chief Professional Officer of United Way of Central Maryland.

The organizations who received toys included, among others, Annapolis Anne Arundel County Boys & Girls Club, Associated Black Charities, Carroll Child Care Centers of Westminster, Children's Choice of Salisbury, Prince George's County Family Center, Head Start of Frederick County and Help Our Children Foundation of Crisfield