Lawsuit claims "CSI" toy kits contain asbestos

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California asbestos awareness group sued CBS Corp, a toy maker and several retailers on Friday, claiming they sold toy crime-scene kits based on the hit CBS series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” that contained the cancer-causing substance.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that laboratory tests revealed the fingerprint dusting powder in the kits contained “substantial quantities of tremolite asbestos ... one of the most lethal forms of asbestos.”

New York-based manufacturer Planet Toys Inc pulled the kits from the market late last year over the group’s claims but said that multiple tests had shown no traces of asbestos.

The company said on its Web site it had issued a “stop sale” on all “CSI” fingerprint kits “until further information can be ascertained as to the discrepancy between our respective test findings.”

Planet Toys could not be reached for further comment on Friday. The company’s Web site said some of the kits were manufactured in China, the source of millions of toys recalled last year for lead paint and other hazards such as small magnets.

The nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization said the defendants, including Planet Toys, failed to warn consumers the kits contained a hazardous material, as required under state law.

The group seeks a court order to stop sales of the kits unless they carry the warning and to require the companies to allow purchasers to return the kits for a full refund, as well as civil penalties.

A spokesman for CBS’ consumer products division declined to comment on specifics of the suit, but cited the findings of tests commissioned by Planet Toys and major retailers showing no asbestos hazard in the fingerprint kits.

“Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, three months ago we demanded that Planet Toys issue an immediate recall of the product,” he said, adding that CBS also had ended its licensing agreement with Planet Toys for the kits.

Reporting by Gina Keating; Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Cooney