Earlier this year, Fisher Price’s inclined sleeper was recalled from the market in the wake of reports of numerous deaths resulting from the use of the defective product. The Rock n Play was recalled in June. At the time of its recall, it was blamed for over 30 deaths. Subsequently, several other brands were recalled as well. Now, the Consumer Products Safety Commission is urging consumers to stop using all brands of inclined sleepers due to the dangers. Nonetheless, consumers are still buying these products secondhand in spite of the dangers presented.
Inclined sleepers were once hailed as a miracle product that helped infants get a better night’s sleep. Millions of units of this product were sold as it became a fad among parents. The theory was that a better slept better if they were inclined at an angle. Inclined sleepers generally were at an angle of 30 degrees or more, gently inclining the baby. Now, the CPSC is beginning the process of changing federal rules to limit the incline in a sleeping product to no more than ten percent. This is the angle where the risk that a baby can roll over is less and is the maximum amount of permissible incline. However, it takes months for a federal rule to be finalized since it must be sent out to the public and industry for comment.
Danger of Inclined Sleepers
The specific danger that is associated with inclined sleepers is that babies can roll into a facedown position when they are inclined. When this happens, babies are more at risk of suffocation. The best sleeping position for a baby is generally on their back because it lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In other words, the design of this product is unreasonably dangerous, subjecting babies to risk.
For years, parents’ preferences for their infants’ sleep were at odds with prevailing advice from pediatricians. Doctors will usually recommend that an infant sleep on a flat surface since that is the safest position where they are less vulnerable to sudden death. However, parents by the millions opted for the Rock n Play sleeper and its competitors on the market. Over a decade’s time, Fisher-Price sold nearly five million of the product and had trouble keeping up with demand at some points. In addition, other companies also sold millions of inclined sleepers. After the Rock n Play recall, Kids II recalled 694,000 of its sleepers.
However, reports started to come in of infant deaths that were associated with the product. As the number of death increased, it was reported that the Rock n Play was put on the market without medical safety tests. Even as there were reported fatalities from the use of the product, Fisher-Price kept the product on the product. The CPSC delayed taking action for a year, even after it began to have concerns about the dangers posed by the product. Finally, under pressure from regulators, Fisher-Price recalled all of the products on the market and urged that customers stop using the product immediately.
Even after the Rock n Play recall, there were several competitors with products still available. These products had their own safety issues and they were soon facing recalls of their own. Now, as these products are each being removed from stores, the CPSC is attempting to ensure that inclined sleepers can no longer be made due to their danger.
First, the agency is attempting to deal with the danger posed by inclined sleepers that are still available secondhand. Consumers are still finding sleepers secondhand on sites such as Craig’s List. Even after the recalls, many parents and daycare facilities have still continued to use these sleepers in spite of the dangers. Nonetheless, it is still illegal now to sell these products even secondhand in the wake of the recall. Websites such as Craig’s List and Facebook Marketplace that host these listing should know of the recall and are subjecting themselves to possible liability should anyone be harmed by a sleeper that was purchased secondhand. These sleepers were found on the websites as part of a Consumer Reports investigation that found other products that do not meet safety standards available here as well.
Issues for the Unaware
One of the major issues is that consumers are not aware that these products have been recalled. Sometimes, even sellers do not know that the product has been recalled. Consumers depend on the marketplaces to protect them and screen the products that are sold, but some of these venues have failed to do so. The Consumer Reports study found that eBay had measures in place to keep recalled products from being sold on its site.
Shortly after the recall of the Rock n Play, Fisher-Price was hit with a number of lawsuits. One lawsuit was filed by parents of an infant who died after using the Rock n Play. The lawsuit claims that the infant suffocated and died minutes after being placed in a Rock n Play for the first time. The girl was 12 weeks old at the time of her death.
There are also class-action lawsuits against the makers of these products for alleged false and misleading advertising. The lawsuits claim that the company represented this product as safe and suitable for sleeping when it was dangerous. As a result, the consumers did not get what they paid for when they bought the sleeper. If you have had a baby who was harmed in an inclined sleeper, contact an attorney at The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates immediately to discuss your legal rights since you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation.