Fisher-Price Recall – Product Tied to More than 30 Infant Deaths
In April, 2019, retail giant Fisher-Price announced that it is recalling all models of its infant sleeper marketed under the product name “Rock’n Play.” Company officials say that the product, first introduced in 2009, has been linked to more than 30 infant fatalities and more than 700 injuries to children under the age of six months. The company warned consumers to immediately discontinue use of the product and said customers could contact the company for a “refund or voucher.” The American Academy of Pediatrics, a professional organization of nearly 70,000 doctors, has called for the removal of the product from store shelves nationwide.
An earlier warning from the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended that parents cease use of the Rock’n Play when the child reaches the age of three months or has shown the ability to roll over. The Rock’n Play is similar to a hammock in construction, with a cloth sleeping surface suspended from a metal frame. The sleeper is also designed so that the infant’s head is elevated above the rest of its body. It also vibrates and plays music, replicating the experience the child had in the womb. Industry analysts say it developed a cult following among sleep-deprived parents and earned glowing reviews from many, as it successfully put infants to sleep without the need to be held. Many parents saw the product, which sold for less than $100, to be a highly affordable alternative to many products on the market, which could sell for upwards of $1,300.
Industry watchdogs say the product design is contrary to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that infants sleep on their backs on a flat, firm surface in a bare crib, play yard or bassinet. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 10 infants have died in the last four years—all had rolled onto their back or side while unrestrained in the sleeper. All of those infants were at least three months old. Of the 32 infants who have died, though, some were younger than three months, but all had the ability to roll over.
Though Fisher-Price has agreed to recall the product, the company issued a statement that it “stands by the safety of the Rock’n Play,“contending that it” meets all applicable safety standards.” The company asserts that the product contains warnings, advising parents not to use it once a child has developed the ability to roll over or has reached the age of three months. Fisher-Price contends that the infant deaths are a result of parents not following product warnings.
Product Liability Law – Fisher-Price Recall
Under product liability law, any entity with the chain of distribution may be found liable for certain defects. A party may have responsibility for dangerous or defective design, manufacture or marketing of a product. Negligent marketing of a product includes the failure to provide reasonable notice or warning of any safety risks that the defendant knew or should have known were present.
Within a couple weeks of the notice of recall, a number of lawsuits were filed, with many seeking to establish a class action for parents of infants who suffered injury because of the Rock’n Play.