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Deadly Simplicity Bassinets Recalled

Aug 29, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Around 900,000 deadly Simplicity Bassinets, blamed for killing two children, are being removed from stores across the country.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), six retailers - Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, Kmart, Big Lots, Target and J.C. Penney - have voluntary agreed to stop selling Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 Convertible "Close-Sleeper" model bassinets.  The announcement came one day after the CPSC warned consumers to stop using the Simplicity Bassinets.  No recall was issued at that time because the company that now owns Simplicity Inc. refused to do so.

According to the CPSC, the bassinets contain metal bars paced farther apart than 2 3/8 inches, the maximum distance allowed under federal crib safety standards.  This defect poses a strangulation hazard. Parents and caregivers should stop using the Simplicity Bassinet immediately and return it to  the store where purchased for a refund or store credit.

The Simplicity Bassinet recall followed the death of a six-month old girl in Kansas last Thursday.  Police in Shawnee, Kansas said the baby became caught in the metal bars of a 4-in-1 Bassinet. As a result, she was strangled.

Last September, the same bassinet claimed the life of a 4-month-old Missouri girl. The infant had slipped out the side of the bassinet between a lower horizontal railing and her mattress, and had become trapped in a 4-inch gap between the railing and top of the mattress. The little girl’s death was ruled an “accidental positional asphyxiation.”

The earlier death was reported to the CPSC, but the agency took no action.  Commission spokeswoman Julie Vallese told the Chicago Tribune that the CPSC did not recall the bassinet last fall because “the investigation of a baby’s death in October 2007 remains open because there are still questions surrounding the circumstances of that baby’s death.”

But the coroner who investigated that baby’s death told the Tribune that is not true. “It was clear-cut,” McDonald County Coroner B.J. Goodwin III said. “We all felt it was the crib that caused the passing.”

The CPSC has been forced to request that retailers stop selling the deadly Simplicity Bassinets because SFCA Inc., the company which purchased all of Simplicity Inc.’s assets at public auction in April 2008, has refused to cooperate with the government and recall the products. According to the CPSC, SFCA maintains that it is not responsible for products manufactured by Simplicity Inc before that purchase.  According to The Washington Post, SFCA is an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital, a Bethesda private-equity fund with $88 million dollars under management.

Despite SFCA's refusal to issue a recall of the Simplicity Bassinets, the CPSC was able to act under a two-week-old law that allows the agency to alert the public about dangerous products. more quickly. The law was passed in response to last year's recalls of millions of lead-tainted toys.


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