After years of consumer anguish and several reported infant deaths later, Fisher-Price announced a recall for the Rock N Play sleeper that is allegedly defective in design and linked to injuries and fatalities.
Consumer protection attorneys and your Fisher Price Recall Lawyer can assist in filing personal injury and product liability claims against Fisher-Price following serious Rock ‘N Play sleeper Accidents.
Fisher-Price finally recalled 4.7 million Rock ’n Play sleeper units after consumer safety lawyers and pediatricians urged Mattel to stop selling the sleepers, which have been linked to up to 32 infant deaths, according to an investigation by Consumer Reports.
The CPSC has been alerted of at least ten infant deaths associated with Fisher Price Rock n Play accidents since 2015, yet the potentially dangerous and deadly product remained on the market for several years.
Accidents and deaths have allegedly occurred when infants rolled from their backs onto their stomachs and sides and suffocated. As a result, the CPSC issued a warning for consumers to stop using the product when an infant is older than three months or when a baby exhibits rollover capabilities.
Safety agencies have warned consumers to use restraints in infant inclined sleep products to reduce the risks of infant sleep deaths. The Rock N Play has since been recalled.
Fisher-Price confirmed they are aware of the reported fatalities since the sleeper was introduced in 2009, but the company does not believe that the accidents were caused by the product, saying medical and health conditions were identified as the cause of death, and that the product was used “in a manner contrary to the safety warnings and instructions.”
Joe Lyon is a product liability attorney and catastrophic injury lawyer reviewing Rock N Play recall accidents, Fisher Price Lawsuits and consumer safety claims for plaintiffs nationwide.
Warnings have come and gone, and yet reported infant deaths continue, demonstrating the necessary recall may have only come too late. The product is equipped with a three-point harness restraint, though is not always utilized by consumers.
Though the CPSC and Fisher-Price remind consumers to create a safe sleep environment for babies in cribs, cradles, bassinets and sleepers, reminding parents to never add blankets, pillows, or stuffed toys, some dangerous products are allowed to remain on the market.
A Consumer Reports investigation regarding the Rock ’n Play Sleeper accidents found the device linked to at least 32 infant deaths, several more than reported by the CPSC or Fisher Price.
The investigation identified infant deaths involving babies younger than the 3-month threshold cited in the company’s warning. The Consumer Reports investigation centers on previously undisclosed CPSC data, Fisher Price lawsuits, interviews with medical experts, product safety engineers, and parents.
Some medical experts say babies should be placed flat on their back alone and free of soft bedding, not at an incline, which helps to minimize the risk of accidental suffocation. The Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play does not follow this recommendation.
The company admits there have been 10 infant death reports related to the Rock ’n Play since 2015, after unrestrained infants rolled onto their stomach or side and suffocated. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend sleeping devices that require the use of restraints because a baby can turn into an unsafe position, leading to suffocation or strangulation accidents.
Child experts urge caution against using sleep in infant car seats for similar reasons. Medical experts also warn that restraint straps can lead to strangulation accidents. It is considered basic advice that babies should sleep on level, firm surfaces, and product liability lawsuits claim Fisher-Price should have known this when it began selling the Rock ’n Play Sleeper. Babies should be put to bed alone, on their backs, on a firm, flat surface
The Fisher Price Rock n Play is marketed to consumers as suitable for “all-night sleep,” though medical experts do not recommend it for sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it does not recommend products for sleep that require restraints, especially if the product moves.
The earliest death linked to a Rock ‘N Play accident may have occurred in 2011, involving a 2-month old child, who died from positional asphyxia, or an inability to breathe. Other deaths have been reported involving a one-month-old girl, and the other a 9-day-old boy.
Health and safety agencies in other nations have questioned Fisher-Price about their sleep products. As early as 2011, Australian regulators expressed concerns and noted that the product marketing “is at odds with widely accepted and promoted best practices that these types of products should not be used as an infant bedding alternative.” They also questioned the product’s angle, saying “babies’ heads can easily fall forward in a way that obstructs their airways.”
Fisher-Price says it started developing the Rock ’n Play Sleeper in part because one of its designers had a baby with trouble sleeping because of acid reflux. The designer’s doctors suggested elevating the infant’s head. There is controversy over the safety of such positional sleeping. Fisher-Price insists the Rock ’n Play Sleeper presents a lower risk of suffocation than alternative like cribs and cradles.
But the AAP and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development counsel against infants sleeping unsupervised in a reclined position. One AAP official stated, “We don’t recommend that babies are placed to sleep with their heads elevated because that is a position that would be subject to accidental suffocation [and] strangulation.” Experts add that parents should avoid using a car seat, stroller, or swing for unsupervised sleep.
The Rock ‘N Play sleeper has now been recalled by Fisher-Price and Mattel, which may have taken advantage of the fact that the CPSC has no specific safety standards for inclined sleepers. The previous safety alert followed a previous one from the CPSC about a year ago, warning consumers about infant deaths associated with inclined sleep products, but failed to name a specific product in the past.
Consumer safety advocates are flummoxed about why the CPSC did not issue an earlier recall of the product after so many reports, some dating back to 2011. But the warnings only stated infants should be watched more vigilantly when three months old or when they exhibit capabilities of moving from their back to their side or stomach. The sleeper has since been recalled due to legal and media pressure.
The CPSC told investigators the agency is “continuing to evaluate the product and investigate whether it contains a defect,” though has yet to determine enough to recall the product even after so many infant deaths.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued other sleeper recalls of four separate inclined sleepers that may pose a risk of suffocation.
These recalls include the Summer Infant SwaddleMe By Your Bed Inclined Sleeper, the Graco Little Lounger Rocking Seat, the Delta Incline Sleeper with adjustable feeding position for newborns and the Evenflo Pillo Portable Napper.
Many product liability cases have had a positive impact on public health and safety, and we have witnessed improved lives and future injuries prevented as companies are forced to remove products and change designs and warnings as a result of litigation.
Product liability lawsuits often contain causes of action for strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Strict liability applies to different factors than negligence-based claims.
In negligence cases, the actions of the defendant are the focus. In strict liability claims, the focus is on the condition of a product at the time it left the manufacturer. If a product is determined to be defective, the company is liable for any foreseeable injuries that are in-part caused by the defective condition of the product.
A product is defective if it is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. A legal cause of action can be based on several types of product defects. The following are Cincinnati product liability and strict liability claims available in Ohio and in most jurisdictions nationwide:
(1) Manufacturing/ Construction Defect:
These issues arise where the product is released from the factory in a manner that deviates from the intended design or specifications. The defect can be a result of using the wrong materials, including the wrong or completely foreign materials (e.g., Tylenol contamination, food poisoning, damaged car part from factory installation).
As a result of the deviation, the product enters the market in an unreasonably dangerous condition and the consumer is exposed to or purchases a product that is defective. Any personal injuries or economic loss that arise from the the defect are compensable under Ohio product liability law.
(2) Defective design and/or formulation:
Defective design product liability cases arise not because a mistake was made during the manufacturing process, but rather the original design of the product is unreasonably dangerous. A “risk benefit analysis” is used to determine whether safer/less expensive alternative designs were available to the manufacturer.
Federal regulations set minimum standards for the design of many consumer products, and preemption defenses may preclude liability in some situations if the manufacturer follows and obtains federal approval for a product. Automotive recalls and product liability cases are usually a result of a defective design. Common cases include the Toyota Brake Recall, Chrysler Gen III seat belt buckle, lap belt only cases, Metal on Metal hip implants, transvaginal mesh.)
(3) Failure to warn or inadequate warning or instruction associated with the product:
All consumer products come with necessary and appropriate warnings and instructions for use. If the lack of a warning makes the product and use of the product unsafe, the manufacturer is liable for the failure to place the warning. The most common area of litigation for failure to warn is in pharmaceutical litigation.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to warn of the known or foreseeable side effects and update the warnings in a timely manner. Litigation arises where there is evidence the manufacturer failed to timely update a warning in light of new data or simply ignored the risk and failed to conduct sufficient research to identify and then disclose the risk.
The product fails to conform to a representation or warranty. Warranty claims are more common in commercial and economic loss cases than in personal injury cases. In many States, The Product Liability Act does not apply to cases with only economic loss, because the Commercial Code provides recourse for breach of warranty.
The warranty may be written or implied based upon the products intended purpose and merchantability. An example of a breach of warranty cases are cases involving automotive defects.
Risks: The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the risks associated with the design of a product: (1) the magnitude of the risk of injury; (2) ordinary consumer awareness of the risk for injury; (3) the likelihood of causing injury; (4) the violation of a private or public standard; and (5) the consumer’s expectation of the performance of the product and level of danger. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (B) Product Defective in Design or Formulation.
Benefits: The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the benefits associated with product design: (1) the utility of the product; (2) availability of an alternative design; (3) the magnitude of risks associated with an alternative design. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (c)
Defenses for Defective Design: (1) a pharmaceutical drug or medical device is not defective by design if it contains an adequate warning of an unavoidably unsafe aspect of the pharmaceutical or medical device; (2) the dangerous aspect is inherent to the product, recognizable, and cannot be eliminated without compromising the product’s usefulness; (3) a lack of a feasible alternative design. 2307.75 (d)(e)(f).
A manufacturing defect is based on a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process. Many auto companies have been involved in this kind of product liability lawsuits in recent years, due to defective airbags, software defects, tire failure, and other dangerous manufacturing errors.
Most manufacturing defect cases are based on a products deviation from the intended specification, formula, performance standards, or design model. In such cases, it may be easy to determine the product did not comply with the intended design.
The product may be recalled as a specific lot is identified as being non-compliant and defective. A product may be defective in manufacture or construction, materials and assembly, and a manufacturer or distributor may be subject to strict liability, even though it exercised all possible care. Ohio Revised Code 2307.74.
Manufacturing Defect Examples:
In determining whether a product is defective due to inadequate warning or instruction, evidence must be presented to prove:
Defenses to Failure to Warn Claims: (1) the risk was open and obvious or a matter of common knowledge; and (2) in cases of a pharmaceutical drug or medical device, the warning was provided to the prescribing physician (“Learned Intermediary Doctrine”).
Many pharmaceutical companies have been targeted in failure to warn lawsuits for either failing to place warnings on medication guides and packaging or failing to properly test their product before putting it to market.
Design and manufacturing defects result in thousands of product recalls each year in the United States, initiated by federal safety agencies. Following injury and illness, regardless of recall status, victims and plaintiffs may pursue legal action and contact a product liability lawyer to begin the litigation process. Rightful compensation can be sought and help plaintiffs recover medical costs and other related damages.
Product liability law overlaps with regulatory law, which are the systems of legislative rules and administrative agencies, and part of federal and state governments. These agencies regulate the safety of the products sold to the public. Examples include:
The listed government agencies, however, may initiate recalls of dangerous products but do not provide remedies or compensation for damages where an individual is injured due to the defective product.
Our Firm will help you find the answers. The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered.
Experience: Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Product Liability Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. Product Liability lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury. Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.
Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.
Results: Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in cases that have involved some of the largest companies in the world.
Defective products on the market present safety and health hazards for adults and children. Cheap and defective products may pose fire and burn risks; electrocution, strangulation and choking risks; and severe health risks. The manufacturers of consumer products have a duty to foresee potential injury and properly design and test products before they are released.
Companies must also properly warn consumers of any risks associated with their products. Any failure to protect consumers that results in accidents and injury can lead to lawsuits filed by plaintiffs and their product liability lawyer.
The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law.
(Pikeville, Kentucky): Confidential settlement for Plaintiff who suffered spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia due to defectively designed seat belt. Four passengers with three-point (lap/shoulder) belts walked away from the accident, and the only passenger wearing a two-point belt (lap only) suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury. The settlement assisted with home improvements to assist in daily living. GM entered federal bankruptcy during the process and no longer manufactures two-point lap belts for vehicles.
(Hillsboro, Ohio): Confidential Settlement for the family of elderly man who was catastrophically burned while operating a propane wall heater. The burns resulted in his unfortunate death. The heater, manufactured and sourced from China, was alleged to allow the flame to reach outside the grid area in violation of ANSI standards. The Defendant resolved the case following discovery and mediation. The recovered funds were paid to the victim’s surviving spouse and children. The company no longer manufactures this type of heater.