The three-month period between November 2009 and January 2010 saw four massive U.S. recalls of cribs and strollers because the products were killing and injuring infants and toddlers.
The following rundown of these recalls raises questions such as why the products were not designed safely in the first place, why the cribs and stollers were kept on the market after their dangers became apparent, and what responsibilities the crib and stoller makers have to correct the problems and reimburse victims.
- Stork Craft Drop-Side Cribs: More than 2 million cribs recalled in Canada and the United States after four babies younger than 12 months old suffocated when the moveable side of their crib slipped and caused them to become trapped between the crib wall and mattress. Another 15 infants fell out their cribs and suffered injuries such as concussions.
- Maclaren Strollers: Twelve children had their fingertips amputed when they got their fingers caught in hinges on the strollers. Nearly one million products were recalled.
- Dorel Asia Cribs: Similar to the problem with the stork Craft cribs, moveable sides on an estimated 635 Dorel Asia drop-side cribs can slip and lead to the entrapment of babies. At least 31 infants became entrapped, and one 6-month-old in Iowa suffocated to death, while sleeping in a recalled Dorel Asia crib.
- Graco Strollers: An uncovered hinge that lets parents adjust the canopy angle on about 1.5 million Graco strollers was responsible for amputating the fingertips of five children.
The list of “Infant/Child Recalls” on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision Web site names hundreds of products, ranging from hooded sweatshirts whose drawstrings can choke young wearers to cloth books that contain lead in their plastic inserts..
The length of the list shows that federal regulators will eventually take notice of dangerous and defective products that injure and kill children–although usually only after the worst happens many times.
The long list also shows that hundreds of companies design, make and sell childrens’ products with little or no regard for safety. Each of the recalls summarized above was “voluntary.” Which is to say that the companies that produced the unsafe cribs and strollers did not wait for CPSC or other officials to order them to take the products off the market or repair the products already sold and in people’s homes.
A voluntary recall represents an admission by a product manufacturer or seller that the recalled item poses serious risks to consumers. This admission provides a strong basis for a product liability claim for any injury or death suffered as a result of using the recalled product. Each parent and family who lost a beloved child to a dangerous or defective product, or who saw a child injured by such a product, deserves compensation. I hope they receive it.