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Car Seat Recall Issued for Eddie Bauer, Safety 1st, and Cosco Brands Due to Faulty Harness Adjuster Strap

Sep 4, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP

Defective car seats have been recalled by Dorel Juvenile Group, the country’s largest car seat manufacturer, because a harness that is supposed to secure a child in the seat could slip.  The car seat recall encompasses 19 different faulty car seat models, including one that was implicated in a January 2005 accident that left a child paralyzed.

The Dorel car seat recall includes popular car seat brands like Eddie Bauer, Safety 1st and Cosco child restraint systems that were manufactured from November 2003 through December 2005. The model numbers affected are:  Cosco: Alpha Omega, Alpha Omega Elite: 22150, 22155, 22180, 22269; Eddie Bauer: 3-in-1, Deluxe 3-in-1, Deluxe Convertible: 22740, 22750, 22755, 22756, 22757, 22770; Safety 1st : Alpha Elite, Alpha Omega, Alpha Omega Elite, Alpha Sport, Intera, Enspira: 22151, 22450, 22451, 22452, 22453, 22455, 22460, 22480, 22481.   The model number and date of manufacture can be found on a sticker located on the back or side of the car seat. 

Dorel said that it initiated the car seat recall after some parents reported difficulty in maintaining tension in the harness strap after buckling their children into the seat.  In the event of a crash, the child might not be properly restrained, increasing the risk of serious injury. Dorel will contact registered owners of the car seats and provide them with information on obtaining a kit to repair the faulty harness strap. Those car seat owners who have not registered can order a repair kit at www.djgusa.com or by call 1-800-219-0509.

Though Dorel says that the defective car seats have caused no injuries, one of the recalled models was involved in an accident that left a 1-year-old girl a quadriplegic.  Hailey Schmidt of Missouri was in an Eddie Bauer car seat in January 2005 when the car she was riding in was involved in a head-on crash.  Hailey’s head snapped too far forward, causing severe injuries.   Dorel settled a lawsuit with the little girl’s parents, but did not admit that defects in the car seat caused her injuries.

Six weeks ago, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that in 2005, two models of the recalled car seats, the Eddie Bauer 3-in1 and the Cosco Alpha Omega 5- point, had failed crash tests administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).   But the NHTSA was convinced by Dorel that the seats posed no hazard after viewing the company’s own crash test results.

Dorel insists that neither the 2005 accident, nor the NHTSA test results sparked the car seat recall.  Dorel also maintains that slippage of the harness strap is rare, and that the recalled car seats may still be used as long as the strap fits a child snugly.  However, the company recommends parents quit using a recalled car seat if the harness cannot be made to fit tightly, or if it does not maintain a snug fit after the child has been buckled.  However, even if a car seat appears to be functioning properly, Dorel is still urging parents to obtain a repair kit and install it as soon as possible in order to prevent potentially serious injuries to their children.


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