As parents, you try to research as best you can to make sure the products you bring into your homes and the lives of your children do more good than harm. It is impossible to research every single product out there, so if you’re like most folks, you heavily rely on the experience of those creating these products to make them safe. That makes processes such as manufacturing and design incredibly important to parents making the decision to purchase them.
Sadly, those processes often take a backseat to profits, and some families end up paying the ultimate price. Last month, Boppy was forced to recall 3.3 million of its newborn loungers because of suffocation risk. Three models were affected by this recall, including:
- Boppy Original Newborn Loungers
- Boppy Preferred Newborn Loungers
- Pottery Barn Kids Boppy Newborn Loungers
These products were distributed in the U.S. and Canada by retailers such as Amazon, Pottery Barn Kids, Target and Walmart. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has cautioned parents to stop using these loungers and to immediately contact Boppy to initiate a full refund.
How many children’s deaths were linked to Boppy loungers?
Eight (8) infants died from suffocation between December 2015 and June 2020. Each of these infants reportedly suffocated after being placed on their back, side, or stomach on the lounger. The infants placed on their backs were found to have rolled onto their side or stomach – a very dangerous position for children their age.
Boppy learned of the first death six years ago, yet continued to sell this lounger fully aware of the risk. Not only that, but no changes were made to the design in those six years that could have prevented any other children from rolling into these fatal positions.
This is not Boppy’s first recall
In 2019 a recall was issued for more than 14,000 Boppy infant head and neck support accessories used for infant swings, bouncers, and strollers. The reason for that recall was that the head support area could be overstuffed posing a suffocation hazard by tilting the infant’s head too far forward causing breathing difficulties. Three infants had been reported as having their heads pushed forward enough that they were chin to chest, though thankfully no injuries had been reported.
Later in 2019, the CPSC cautioned consumers to refrain from further use of inclined infant sleep products after conducting a study. Further guidance stated that the “best place for a baby to sleep is on a firm, flat surface in a crib, bassinet or play yard.”
Companies have an obligation to make safe products
At the core of avoiding causing harm through product liability is design and manufacturing. Companies have to keep the end user in mind and anticipate the reasonable use of the product when designing and creating any item they are putting out into the retail market. When creating products for babies, it should have been easy to anticipate that they would roll and turn themselves. It should also have been a foregone conclusion that parents would feel comfortable placing their infants in these support pillows as a place to safely hold their infants in place nearby in order to be hands-free.
The very definition of the word “support” means to hold up. Because these Boppy pillows did not properly hold these infants up and allowed them to turn into positions that ultimately ended their very short lives, the design of this product was not safe for its intended use.
A new law aimed at protecting babies
The CPSC has approved a new federal rule that goes into effect in mid-2022 to ensure products marketed or intended for infant sleep will be safe for babies under 5 months old.
The rule requires that these products “meet a federal safety standard requiring that infant sleep products that do not already meet the requirements of an existing CPSC sleep standard must be tested to confirm that the angle of the sleep surface is 10 degrees or lower and that they comply with the agency’s Safety Standard for Bassinets and Cradles.”
The mandatory standard serves to eliminate potentially hazardous sleep products in the marketplace that fail to meet a CPSC mandatory standard for infant sleep, such as inclined sleepers, travel and compact bassinets, and in-bed sleepers, which have been linked to numerous infant deaths.
What are my options if my children suffered harm from a defective product?
If your baby was harmed because of a defective product design, you can file a product liability lawsuit against the company. Because Alabama is a strict liability state, you don’t actually have to prove the company was negligent; you only have to show that you (or in this case, your child) suffered harm because of the dangerous product.
The State of Alabama has a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for a product liability claim. Depending upon who may be at fault and whether wrongful death or serious injury is involved, it could vary the amount of time you have to bring a claim from as little as one year to as much as 10 years.
The compassionate Huntsville product liability lawyers at Martin & Helms understand the pain and grief that comes with the unexpected loss of a child. Let us help you get justice. To schedule your free consultation in our Huntsville or Decatur office, call 256.539.1990 or reach out to us through our contact form to tell us your story. We proudly serve clients throughout North Alabama, including those in Madison and Athens.