CPSC Missed Defects in Deadly Delta CribsDec 9, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
An investigation by the Chicago Tribune asserts that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) received reports that now-recalled Delta cribs were endangering children five years before it took any action. The deaths of two children prompted the Delta Crib recall in October, but at least two parents interviewed by the Tribune said those deaths could have been avoided had Delta and the CPSC acted on complaints they made in 2002 and 2004.
In October, Delta Enterprises, Inc. issued a recall for 1.6 million defective cribs. At least 60,000 of those cribs were recalled because of defective spring pegs that could fail and create an entrapment hazard. The remaining cribs were recalled because of fears that beds that had been reassembled could be missing their safety pegs, which could also create an entrapment hazard. At the time, the CPSC said that the recalled cribs had been implicated in the deaths of two children.
But according to the Chicago Tribune report, a third child may have died as a result of one of the defective Delta cribs. The 6-month-old infant from Long Island, New York died in 2004 after becoming trapped when the side railing of the Delta crib popped off its track, the Tribune said.
The death of that child was not mentioned in the CPSC's Delta recall notice. The agency maintains that in that incident, the crib failed in a way that differed from the others. But the Chicago Tribune - which reviewed the CPSC's records and a video of the crib in question - said the crib failed because of the same defects that prompted this year's recall. According to the Tribune, a tiny plastic peg, designed to pop in and out as the railing lowers got stuck in the withdrawn position.
The very same defect had caused an Oregon baby to become trapped in a Delta crib in 2002 - nearly two years before the Long Island child died, the Tribune said. The child's mother returned the crib and filed a complaint with the CPSC. According to the article, the CPSC investigation found that the plastic spring peg "appeared to be jammed in a retracted position" when the crib failed. But engineers at the agency couldn't find the exact cause of the problem. The case was closed without any further action taken.
In May 2007, a Texas infant died after being trapped in a defective Delta crib. Then, this past July, a child in Florida perished the same way. It was only after those deaths that the CPSC finally realized that there might be a wide spread problem with the Delta cribs and issued a recall.