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Lawsuit Filed in Simplicity Crib Recall by Family Who Says Crib Became a Deathtrap For Their Baby

Sep 25, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP

A Houston family says a defective Simplicity crib killed their baby girl, and now they are taking the company to court.  Royale Arceneaux, 7-months-old, died in her Simplicity crib last February after she became entrapped in a gap created by the crib’s faulty drop rail.  Royale is one of three children known to have died in hazardous Simplicity and Graco cribs that were recalled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) last week.

Simplicity, the maker of the cribs, recalled more than a million of them last Friday because a flaw in the design of the beds allowed them to be assembled with the drop rail upside down.  When this happened, the rail could separate from the side, creating a gap where a child could become entrapped and suffocate.   

According to Royale’s parents, that is exactly what happened to her.   The Arceneaux’s mistakenly put the crib together incorrectly, and the baby fell into a gap when part of the rail separated from the rest of the crib.  Her head became wedged against the mattress and the little girl suffocated.  

The Arceneaux’s said that when they assembled the defective Simplicity crib, they followed the manufacturer’s instructions “to the best of our ability.”   But according to their lawyer, there was nothing on either the instructions or the crib itself indicating the top or bottom of the drop rail.   That omission led Royale’s parents to mistakenly install the rail incorrectly.

It was a mistake that many others made as well.  At least two other children were killed by the dangerous Simplicity and Graco cribs, while the CPSC says that seven others became dangerously entrapped in them.  The CPSC also received reports of 55 other “incidents” involving the recalled cribs, and those reports included cribs that were even assembled correctly.   The first death attributed to the cribs occurred in 2005, and now many are questioning why it took so long for the CPSC to warn parents about the dangers they posed.

When it issued the crib recall last week, the CPSC underscored its urgency by warning parents not to allow their children to sleep in the cribs “one more night.” But when the agency investigated the death of a 9-month-old boy in one of the cribs in 2005, its inspector did not even bother to identify the type of crib involved in his death.  According to that child’s parents, the CPSC did not even inspect the Simplicity crib that killed him.   And according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the CPSC only decided to issue last week’s crib recall after it learned that the newspaper was about to publish an expose detailing the agency’s shoddy 2005 investigation.

Had the CPSC identified and recalled the crib that was involved in the 2005 fatality, Royale and at least one other child might be alive now.  But Royale’s mother said that she is relieved that parents now know how dangerous the recalled Simplicity cribs can be.   She told a Houston TV station earlier this week that though nothing can bring her daughter back, she is sleeping better knowing that no other families need suffer the same tragedy.



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