Laundry-detergent packets, also known as laundry-detergent pods, have been a boon to detergent manufacturers, who marketed the pods to busy mothers attracted by anything that made their never-ending household chores easier and more convenient to manage. The pods were first sold in 2010. But, their dangers began to be discovered as early as 2012, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an article in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report warning parents of the serious dangers posed by these products, which have caused the poisoning of thousands of U.S. children. The CDC had received 485 reports of laundry-detergent-pod poisonings between May 17, 2012, and June 17, 2012, alone, ninety-percent of which were caused by children’s ingestion of the detergent product contained in the pods.
The results of another, and comprehensive, study on the laundry pods were published in the December 2014 issue of Pediatrics and reported by national news media on November 10, 2014. The study, conducted by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio (Nationwide), revealed that an average of one child per hour between 2012 and 2013 swallowed or inhaled the contents of one of these packets or sustained skin or eye injuries from the laundry product. A total of 17, 230 children under the age of 6 were found to have been injured in this way during the study period. Ingestion of the product caused most of the injuries (79.7 percent) and approximately two-thirds of the injuries were sustained by one- and two-year-olds. At least 769 of the 17,230 children required hospitalization, including 30 who went into comas, 12 who suffered seizures, and one who died. According to the study’s lead author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide, this is the most significant laundry-detergent hazard posed to young children ever seen by the center. The American Cleaning Institute has stated that the poisoning and other dangers of these pods or packets is greater than the dangers posed by standard bottled liquid laundry detergent, because the packets contain detergent in a highly concentrated form.
Why do children play with these products or swallow their contents? Many critics of the product assert that children play with them because they resemble toys or candy, put them into their mouths because young children have a natural tendency to put nearly everything they find into their mouths (at least one child thought a pod contained juice), and because the packaging and package warnings were insufficient to alert parents of the packets’ dangers and to keep children from accessing their contents.
The dangers posed by these products can cause serious injury or death to children for which manufacturers and others involved in the pods’ production and distribution may be held liable through legal action. If your child has been injured or has died from use of or exposure to a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation through a product-liability action against the responsible parties.
Child-injury attorney Jeff Killino has extensive experience with a wide variety of child-injury cases, including those arising out of children’s injuries and deaths caused by defective products. Contact attorney Killino and his highly regarded team of child-injury and defective-products lawyers for more information about your legal options.
How to Protect Your Child (and Others) from Detergent-Pod Injury or Death
Even if your child has already been injured by a laundry-detergent packet (and certainly, if your child has not), you can take important and relatively easy steps to prevent initial or further injury from these or other dangerous household products. The following tips should be followed by any adult who has children in the home:
- Use traditional laundry detergent instead of laundry pods (as urged by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP))
- Read and heed all instructions and warning labels provided with household products
- Keep all laundry and other household cleaning products, insecticides, and other poisons or caustic substances out of the sight and reach of children
- Find and use safer alternative household products
Holding Those Responsible for Children’s Injuries and Deaths Liable through Legal Action
Manufacturers and others involved in the production and distribution of products to consumers may be held liable in product-liability actions for children’s injuries and deaths caused by product design, manufacturing, or warning defects. As discussed above, the detergent pods that caused injury to thousands of children may have been defective in their warnings as well as their packaging.
Under the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 402A, comments h, a product’s packaging is considered part of a product for purposes of product-liability law, so that a defect in packaging can be found to constitute a product defect. If the defective packaging of a laundry pod, for instance, is found to have been a cause of a child’s injury or death, the designer, manufacturer, assembler, suppliers, wholesaler, retailer, and any other entity in the line of distribution from manufacturer to purchaser may be held liable for the child’s injury or death.
Comment j provides that inadequate warnings may also render a product unreasonably dangerous and, thus, defective, under product-liability law, though the inclusion of an adequate warning that is not read and/or heeded by a consumer may relieve product-liability defendants from liability for the consumer’s injury or death. Thus, if a laundry pod or other product is found to contain no warning or a warning that is insufficient to alert consumers of the risk that led to a child’s injury or death, the product-liability defendants referenced above may be held liable for the child’s injury or death.
Obtain Expert Assistance from Child-injury Attorney Jeff Killino
Child-injury attorney Jeff Killino has been recognized from coast to coast for his expertise with child-injury cases and aggressive pursuit of justice from all those responsible for children’s preventable injuries and deaths. Call attorney Killino for experienced and compassionate assistance with your child-injury or defective-products case.