Crib Recall Issued After Deaths of Two Children. Report Says CPSC Knew of Defects in 2005, but Only Chose to Act NowSep 21, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
The largest crib recall in US history was announced today by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), after two infants died of suffocation while sleeping in the defective cribs. About 1 million cribs made by Simplicity Inc. – including some of the country’s top-selling models – are included in the recall. But even as it issued the recall, questions arose regarding the CPSC’s response to various complaints about the defective cribs that the agency had been hearing for the past two years.
The CPSC said that the drop rail on the recalled cribs can detach, creating a dangerous gap where children can be trapped and suffocated. The deaths of a 9-month-old and a 6-month-old have already been blamed on the hazardous cribs, and the CPSC is investigating a fatal incident involving a 1-year-old child to see if one of the cribs contributed to that death. The CPSC said that it was also aware of 7 other instances of infant entrapment and 55 other accidents involving the cribs. The deaths occurred because the cribs’ drop rail was improperly installed due to its poor design.
The recall includes about 1 million cribs sold under the Simplicity and Graco names. The recalled Simplicity models include: Aspen 3 in 1, Aspen 4 in 1, Nursery-in-a-Box, Crib N Changer Combo, Chelsea and Pooh 4 in 1. The recall also involves the following Simplicity cribs that used the Graco logo: Aspen 3 in 1, Ultra 3 in 1, Ultra 4 in1, Ultra 5 in 1, Whitney and the Trio. The cribs have one of the following model numbers, which can be found on the envelope attached to the mattress support and on the label attached to the headboard: 4600, 4605, 4705, 5000, 8000, 8324, 8800, 8740, 8910, 8994, 8050, 8750, 8760, and 8996. The cribs were made in China and sold throughout the US between January 1998 and May 2007.
The CPSC is warning parents not to use the cribs at all – even tonight. Consumers need to call Simplicity at 1-888-593-9274 or go to the company’s website at www.simplicityforchildren.com to order a repair kit.
The recall comes amid word that the Chicago Tribune had been investigating the CPSC’s handling of incidents involving the recalled Simplicity and Graco cribs. According to that newspaper, it was only after its reporters started asking questions that the CPSC sent an investigator to retrieve a crib and look at its flaws. That inspection took place only three days ago, and it is what apparently finally prompted the CPSC to act. The Chicago Tribune has said that it will publish the results of its investigation next week. Reportedly, it details the death of one of the infants in 2005, and reports that the CPSC failed to identify the model and manufacturer of the crib that killed that child. The Tribune story will also document many other complaints about the defective cribs received by the CPSC over the past several years.
If the details of the Tribune’s investigation turn out to be as explosive as they appear, it will be yet another black eye for the embattled CPSC. Already, the agency is under fire for failing to protect children from lead-painted toys and other dangerous products. The CPSC has claimed that tight budgets and inadequate staffing where responsible for those lapses in oversight. But early word of the Tribune’s investigation indicates that incompetence, or even neglect, on the part of the CPSC is party to blame for the tragedy of the defective Simplicity and Graco cribs that have endangered so many children.