Graco Children’s Products, a division of Newell Rubbermaid Inc., has issued the largest combined recall of infant and child seats in American history. The initial recall of 4.2 million toddler seats was announced in February 2014, and a second recall was issued on June 3 for 1.9 million infant car seats.
Both recalls were prompted by reports of the same sort of problem with the buckles on each type of seat. In light of the information available to Graco when the first recall was announced, however, many are wondering if Graco issued the second recall months later than it should have.
In early 2014, with respect to the first recall, the company stated in its Recall and Safety Notifications that it was issuing a “voluntary recall on the harness buckles used on select toddler convertible car seats and harnessed booster seats.” The company further represented that, as part of its “continuous product testing and improvement process,” it had identified that some of the buckles in the recalled seats were reported to “become progressively more difficult to open over time or become stuck in the latched position.” The company promised to replace the faulty buckles with “new and improved” versions, but stressed that the car seats were safe to use even with the defective buckles.
Graco claimed that the buckle difficulties experienced by owners of the toddler seats subject to the first recall were caused when food, dried liquids, formula, and other substances leaked into the buckles during normal usage, thereby gumming up the buckles and preventing them from opening. In defense of its refusal over the approximately five-month period between February and July to add its infant car seats to the recall, Graco asserted that the buckles in Graco infant car seats could not suffer from this problem because infants do not eat or drink while riding in car seats.
Despite Graco’s assertions, however, reports were made both to Graco and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that parents were experiencing the same difficulties in extracting their children from Graco infant car seats as they were from Graco toddler seats.
Can Graco be found liable for injuries to children who use Graco car seats with buckles the manufacturer knows to be faulty? As discussed more fully below, Graco may be held liable for any injuries sustained by a child as a result of a defect in one of its children’s products, even if Graco had no knowledge that the product was defective.
The law of product liability is complex and requires the assistance of a lawyer experienced with such lawsuits. Child-injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino has extensive experience with all types of child-injury cases, including those arising out of injuries caused by defective children’s products. If your child has been injured or killed through the use of a defective car seat or other children’s product, attorney Killino and his team of child-injury lawyers, child-accident lawyers, defective car-seat lawyers, child brain-injury lawyers, defective children’s products lawyers, and wrongful-death lawyers can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled from those responsible for your child’s injuries or death.
Legal Liability for Injuries Caused by Defective Car Seats
Manufacturers of child car seats and others in the chain of distribution of these products, such as designers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers, may be held liable for injuries sustained by a child as a result of a defect in the car seat in an action for product liability.
When a plaintiff seeks damages for personal injuries in a product-liability action, the action is generally brought as a strict-liability claim, which holds a manufacturer and others in the chain of a product’s distribution liable for injuries caused by a defect without proof by the plaintiff that any of the defendants were negligent in creating the defective product or in releasing it to the public. Thus, Graco’s knowledge of the buckle defect before the infant seats were recalled is not necessary to a finding of strict liability against Graco for any injuries sustained by an infant as a result of this particular defect. Evidence of such knowledge may be presented to a jury even in a strict-liability case, however, as juries sometimes find it difficult to hold a defendant liable without proof of that defendant’s negligence.
Causation in Product-liability Actions
Causation is often one of the most complex aspects of a personal-injury or defective-product action. In many instances, several events or instances of negligence may constitute causes of a plaintiff’s injuries. In some cases, a defendant may be held liable for an increase in a plaintiff’s injuries as a result of a product defect, even if the accident that led to the injuries was caused by something other than the product defect.
Both Graco and NHTSA received multiple reports of parents having to cut through Graco car-seat harnesses or remove entire car seats in order to get their children out of the seats. Thus, the buckle defect in the recalled Graco car seats could lead to such liability if, for example, a child is involved in an auto accident and cannot be removed from a car seat in time to save the child’s life or avoid serious injuries that could have been prevented if the child could have been extricated from the car seat as he or she could have if the buckle had not been defective. Though the accident itself may have been due to someone’s negligence or no one’s fault at all, the increase in a child’s injuries may be found to have been caused by the buckle defect.
Obtain Dedicated and Expert Assistance from Child-injury Attorney Jeffrey Killino
Child-injury attorney Jeffrey Killino is personally dedicated to vindicating the rights of children who have been injured by defective products, such as defective car seats and other children’s seats. If your child has been injured or killed through the use of a defective car seat or other children’s product, attorney Killino and his team of child-injury attorneys, child-accident attorneys, defective car-seat attorneys, child brain-injury attorneys, defective children’s products attorneys, and wrongful-death attorneys will fight for the compensation and justice you and your child deserve.