In one of the biggest car seat recalls in history, Graco issued a recall last week of 3.8 million car safety seats over concerns that children may become trapped by buckles that may not unlatch.
The recall covers 11 models produced between 2009 and 2013 by Graco Children’s Products, Inc. of Atlanta. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this recall marks the fourth largest child seat recall in U.S. history. NHTSA said that in the event of an accident, such a problem with the buckle could cause difficulty in removing a child from the restraint, thereby increasing the risk for serious injury or death in the event of a motor vehicle crash, fire, or other type of emergency.
Though the company has already issued a voluntary recall for 11 models, the company is receiving backlash from many federal regulators, including NHTSA who allege Graco excluded seven rear-facing infant car seat models which have the same buckles, from their recall. Both Graco and NHTSA have received numerous complaints about stuck buckles on those infant seats. According to a letter written to Graco by NHTSA, some consumers have even had to resort to the “extreme measure” of cutting the harness straps to remove their child from the car seats. NHTSA asked Graco to identify the total number of seats that are potentially defective and explain why it chose to exclude infant seats from the recall. Graco estimated that only 1% of all child seats were affected by the issue.
One potential reason, according to statements by Graco, could be that food and beverages can make the harness buckles in the children’s seats sticky and therefore harder to unlatch over time. The statement continued, saying that rear-facing infant seats do not face that problem because infants don’t get food or drinks on their seats. Graco said that it will send replacement buckles to owners of infant seats upon request. The company also has issued cleaning tips for buckles, as well as issuing instructions on how to replace the buckles (including posting a video to its website) for customers who requested a replacement buckle for their child’s seat.
NHTSA said that parents should check seat buckles and contact Graco for a free replacement, and that people should in the meantime get another safety seat for their child until the seat is fixed by Graco. In addition to Graco seats, NHTSA has since last month, begun investigating four models of Evenflo child safety seats which have a design that is similar to the recalled Graco seats, and potentially uses buckles from the same manufacturer, AmSafe Commercial Products Inc. of Elkhart, Indiana.
The Graco car seat recall is the second serious child product recall in the past month. In January, Playtex issued a safety recall of 1.4 million pacifier holders over concerns that small children could choke if a part of the clip broke off. The clips are used to connect a pacifier to clothing, diaper bags, strollers, and have the potential to crack and cause a small part to break off. Just before the recall was issued, the company had received 99 reports of the holder cracking-though the company has yet to receive any reports of injuries because of the defect.
Product manufacturers, like Graco and Playtex, are responsible for ensuring their products are safe for consumption and use, and do not pose a risk for serious injuries to those who use them. Currently, there are a number of different baby products on the market and the reality is that many baby products may pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of children who come in contact with them. When companies fail to ensure their products are safe, it becomes their responsibility should a consumer be injured. At the law offices of Altman & Altman, LLP our Boston Products Liability Attorneys have decades of experience handling all types of personal injury and products liability cases, and have a track record of achieving successful settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients. If your child was injured because of a defective product, call or email our office to speak to an attorney and schedule your free initial consultation. Upon review of your case we will determine whether you qualify for a Products Liability Lawsuit and proceed to file for damages against the responsible parties so that you receive the compensation you deserve. We stand ready to assist you through this difficult and confusing time, and we are available around the clock to answer any and all questions you have regarding your case.