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Leg500

In: Business and Management

Submitted By khutton
Words 1904
Pages 8
Products Liability
Lakesha Hutto
Strayer University

Patrick Caver, esq.
LEG500: Law,Ethics & Corp. Governance
March 17, 2013, 2013

Abstract
There are has been many lawsuits filed against makers of cribs and other infant products in recent years. Many recalls have been made on the 4 in 1crib since 1998 until present time and many deaths of infants have occurred as well. The following discussion will share the stories and lawsuits filed against companies such as Graco Children’s Products Inc., Simplicity and the outcome of the lawsuits and what things were added to enhance the safety and quality of the products.

Simplicity Incorporated is one of the largest makers of baby products worldwide. The company produces and sells items such as the Aspen 3 in 1, Nursery in a Box and Crib in Changer Combo. Simplicity cribs also used the popular Graco logo on some of its bigger items such as the Ultra 4 in1, the Ultra 5 in 1 Whitney and the Trio. All of these items were recalled by because of several complaints and even some recorded deaths of infants. These items were sold in department stores and children’s stores and by mass merchandisers nationwide from January 1998 through May 2007 for between $100-$300 dollars and all items were made in China.
The side of the crib that lowers can detach from the crib, creating a dangerous gap that can lead to the entrapment and suffocation of children. At the time that the reports were being made, three babies had already died and a 6 month-old, a 9 month-old and 1 year old died in cribs in which the drop-side was mistakenly installed upside down. When the door was installed upside down, it weakened the hardware and caused the drop side to detach from the crib. Simplicity cribs with both older and newer styles of hardware have had this problem, but the cribs with older style hardware appear to pose a great hazard: Two of the deaths, seven entrapments and fifty-five incidents have been associated with those cribs. (Recalled: Simplicity cribs from Simplicity, 2012)
After reporting the incidents parents were of course asked to stop using the crib immediately and of course were encouraged to not let the child sleep in it until they could fix it or determine its safety. Parents were also instructed to make sure the drop-side was installed right side up by checking the rail to see that the slightly rounded side with the decorative groove was facing up and the side with the square edges was facing down. They were also encouraged to make sure the drop-side is securely attached to the tracks in all four corners. Simplicity also asked that if the parents noticed that the hardware was older that they could contact the company and request newer hardware or replace the defected product. (Recalled: Simplicity cribs from Simplicity, 2012) Most parents were upset at the fact that they were encouraged to correct an issue that of course came from the manufacturer with the improper parts and was already defected. Parents were urged not to take the children to bed with them as this poses an even bigger problem; but to use a portable crib instead.
Though all the cribs covered by the recall were made in China, The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) the agency overlooking the law suit, said it was Simplicity’s flawed design and hardware that were responsible for the problem, which the agency said led to seven other non-fatal cases of infants being trapped and fifty-five other complaints of drop-rail problems. The design flaw allowed caregivers to unintentionally install the drop rail upside down, weakening the hardware and causing the rail to separate from the frame. The infants who died slipped through the resulting gap, became trapped and were ultimately asphyxiated.
According to the Tort of Strict Product Liability, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant breached its duty of care, creating an unreasonable risk of harm, and that such careless behavior was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. In the case of Amber Spitzer the plaintiff in one of the law suits filed against Simplicity, I feel that she was able to properly provide enough evidence to recover any damages. (Halbert/Ingulli, 20012)
The class-action lawsuit was filed in Minneapolis against Simplicity as well as Target Corp., the company from whom Spitzer bought the Aspen 4 in 1 crib for her daughter in April 2006. Also named as a defendant was Graco Children's Products Inc., the company that licensed its name to Simplicity for some of the cribs that were recalled. The lawsuit was ultimately resolved by cribs and other products being recalled and an investigation done to correct the issue at hand. Simplicity worked with the CPSC to correct the issues and try to bring some sense of security to future consumers of Simplicity or Graco products. (Recalled: Simplicity cribs from Simplicity, 2012) I agree with the ultimate decision made by Simplicity and the CPSC to provide customers with new hardware not new beds. In most cases during the investigation, the hardware was found to be the biggest issue so replacing it would seem only right. However, if the consumer would prefer a refund for their purchase I would definitely agree that all money is fully refunded to them.
Simplicity President Ken Waldman said the company redesigned its crib hardware two years ago as a result of consumer complaints. Mr. Waldman would not say why the recall did not take place sooner. Simplicity did not offer a replacement crib in place of the old, defected crib, but did however offer new hardware kit intended to keep the rail from separating. Asked about the decision to replace hardware instead of the cribs in their entirety, Waldman said: "Working with the CPSC, we found the best remedy was to send new, updated hardware." This decision however was not very popular among the parents and child advocacy agencies who criticized CPSC for making the parents responsible for correcting Simplicity’s issue. (Deaths Spur Recall , 2012)
Many parents felt that it was Simplicity’s responsibility to replace the defected bed or to make sure their money was refunded. Department stores were in compliance with this request and offered replacement cribs or a full refund even if the consumer did not have a receipt. One lawsuit was filed by Charles Kelly, a San Francisco product liability attorney who had represented the family of Liam Johns, a 9-month-old boy who died in April 2005 in Citrus Heights, Calif., in a Simplicity crib."The recall is grossly inadequate and irresponsible," Kelly said Monday. "Simplicity should be required to tell consumers to dismantle their crib, and return it for a full refund. (Recalled: Simplicity cribs from Simplicity, 2012)
"A retrofit kit only invites disaster," he said. "Only one retrofit kit needs to be used incorrectly and we could have another death. It was improper assembly ... that caused the three deaths in the first instance." The lawsuit alleges that Simplicity should have warned consumers about the dangers of the cribs or stopped the selling them. (www.chicagotribune.com)
After further review and investigation by CPSC into the deaths and injuries of the infants, it was found that though most of the incidents happened because the railing was installed improperly but there were two cases where CPSC found that the drop railing was installed properly but the drop rail still failed to work properly. These missteps into the investigation caused a delay in lawsuits but ultimately led to over one (1) million recalls on Simplicity’s products.
The Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972 created the CPSC as an independent federal regulatory agency to protect consumers from unreasonable risk of injury, illness, or death from unsafe products. (Halbert/Ingulli, 20012, p. 288)The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the regulatory agency that resided over Simplicity in their lawsuits. CPSC headed the recall of over 1 million Simplicity cribs and other products and implemented a plan that would lead to Simplicity rectifying the issue as much as possible.
For most of its existence the CPSC relied primarily on voluntary standards, ignoring its authority to adopt regulations and recall unsafe products. It wasn’t until 2006 that the agency attacked its first major safety standard, when it set minimum safeguards to make mattresses fire-safe. (Halbert/Ingulli, 20012, p. 289) It’s extremely important for agencies such as CPSC to exist because it ensures that companies are doing everything possible to keep children safe. It’s important that the law sets specific safety standards for children’s products. The CPSC adds new requirements for children’s products and also ensures that the defects of any products will be handled in a timely fashion to avoid any law suits.
Because children safety is of the upmost importance I think it’s very important that the CPSC continues to be very presence and active in all products produced for the kids. The CPSC may have to propose that more money is spent by companies such as Simplicity and Graco for testing on their products before the products are sold in stores. The additional money used during or before production would hopefully cut down on law suites and damages being paid after consumers have purchased the products and ultimately save lives. The CPSC is also a part of the chain of government agencies responsible for the safety of imported products-which seems to be a very large task for the number of people employed to the do job. There are millions of truck sized cargo shipments that enter the country every year and with the limited inspectors on hand there is no wonder that there is some products that get over looked and many that make it to department stores to be sold. (Halbert/Ingulli, 20012)
Simplicity should also include in their directions labels for each piece of the product to ensure that the assemblies of their products are as easy to understand as possible. Possibly labeling “this side up” or back and front on pieces would help ensure that the item is installed properly. Taking into consideration that the railing was installed improperly on a few the cases should definitely bring about this change. Also, Simplicity may want to recommend a certain tool for certain screws or bolts to insure that the grooves aren’t stripped or damaged. These recommendations are all made to ensure that the product is assembled as it was intended to be and would definitely cut down on injuries and avoid any fatalities.
Companies like Simplicity will have to place more attention on their products because they offer products to the most delicate consumers. As a parent your main responsibility is to protect your child and you will go to great lengths to ensure that their safety is top priority for everyone. The CPSC should definitely push to have more funds allocated to the inspection of their products regardless if the products are produced inside or outside of the country. CPSC should make sure that any companies not in compliance with the laws and rules to ensure safer and proper products for their consumers are fined the maximum fine. Hopefully, attention to detail in the inspection stage will ensure that only safe products are placed on the market.

References
(Deaths Spur Recall , 2012)
(Recalled: Simplicity cribs from Simplicity, 2012)
(Halbert/Ingulli, 20012)
(www.chicagotribune.com)…...

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