After reports of at least 32 infant deaths nationwide, Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million of their popular “Rock ’n Play Sleeper” units on April 12, 2019. Two weeks later, Kids2 recalled 36 models of baby sleepers, with about 700,000 sold.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) determined the hazard of both companies’ sleepers to be “infants rolling from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained, or under other circumstances.” The cause of death for some of the infants was listed as suffocation caused by the babies’ position.
On April 5, CPSP and Fisher-Price had alerted consumers to not use the sleeper after 3 months of age. Within the week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged the CPCS to immediately recall the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. The AAP said the sleeper put infants at risk of rolling into an unsafe position, leaving them unable to move and at risk of suffocation. Further, the AAP stated that the recommendation was insufficient for potentially deadly products.
The AAP urges against the use of any inclined sleep products that require restraining a baby.
Fisher-Price aware of danger in 2015, but blamed parents
Between 2015 and 2018, ten infant deaths were reported. Instead of recalling the products or changing their design, Fisher-Price warned consumers not to use the sleeper if a baby can roll over. 32 more deaths have been reported since that warning.
The product itself includes a variety of safety instructions that Fisher-Price and its parent company, Mattel, have stood by. The companies claim most deaths occurred from improper use with infants older than three months.
In a statement released with the recall, Mattel said the deaths were caused by consumers using the sleeper “contrary to safety warnings and instructions.” However, many of the infant deaths have occurred with infants in the appropriate age range of 0-3 months.
In 2011, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Pediatric Society raised concerns as well. The Rock ’n Play did not meet any of the Canadian regulations for baby sleeping arrangements. The product was then reclassified by Canadian authorities as a “soother.”
Class Action Suits Filed
Two class action lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. District Court in Buffalo. The suits allege defective design and dangerously false and misleading marketing of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. Contained in some of its marketing materials, Fisher-Price included phrases like, “baby can sleep at a comfy incline all night long.”
The suits further allege that Fisher-Price and Mattel disregarded the AAP’s recommendations and that the defendants lobbied the CPSC to let them avoid regulations that would have prompted a recall sooner.
The lawsuits are expected to benefit from a wide variety of experts who will evaluate product safety, product marketing and product use. For assistance with injuries involving consumer products, contact us. SUGARMAN’s personal injury attorneys have experience in product liability cases. Call us at 617-542-1000, email email@example.com, or fill out a Contact Form.