More Retailers Recall Deadly Simplicity Bassinets; Company Still Not Issuing RecallSep 5, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
The Associated Press is reporting that 11 additional retailers have recalled Simplicity bassinets, bringing the total to 17 retailers recalling the deadly infant beds. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that the 11 additional retailers are pulling the Simplicity bassinets because the products pose a strangulation hazard. The recent 11 include AAFES, Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond/BuyBuyBaby, Burlington Coat Factory, Chelsea & Scott (OneStepAhead), CSN Stores, Fingerhut Direct Marketing, Kohl’s Department Stores, ShopKo Stores Inc., Sweet Pea Decor, and six USA Baby stores.
As part of the recall process, retailers will provide a refund or store credit to consumer who return the defective Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets to the store of purchased, the CPSC said. Late last month, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Kmart, Big Lots, Target, and J.C. Penney all took the defective bassinets off their shelves. The massive bassinet recall affects nearly 900,000 and was prompted following the death of a six-month-old girl from Shawnee, Kansas who was strangled on August 21 when she became trapped between the bassinet's metal bars. In 2007, a four-month-old baby girl from Noel, Missouri, became trapped in the bassinet's metal bars and died. Simplicity bassinets have metal bars spaced farther apart than federal standards allow.
The Chicago Tribune is also reporting that Toys R Us Inc., one of the nation's largest nursery furniture retailers, is forcing crib makers to build sturdier products to avoid such potentially fatal hazards. The retailer points out that government and industry safety rules don't adequately protect children and is requiring implementation of stricter tests and design standards that crib makers have avoided for years. Toys R Us, which also owns Babies R Us, sells hundreds of thousands of cribs annually and is using its size and prestige to also specify the trees its suppliers can use, the way in which spindles are attached to crib railings, and the type of glue used in the manufacture of these products. Those manufacturers that do not follow the new rules will be unable to sell cribs in its stores.
Despite a recent law that gave the CPSC increased and new powers and despite that the CPSC had to ask retailers to recall the Simplicity Bassinets, the company that now owns Simplicity refused to recall the beds. When the Missouri baby died last fall, Simplicity was already in dire financial straits, owing to another massive crib recall it had issued earlier in the summer. With creditors circling, Simplicity sold its assets at auction two months later. According to The Washington Post, the assets were purchased by SFCA Inc., an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital, a Bethesda, Maryland private-equity fund with $88 million dollars under management. Under the deal, SFCA bought the right to sell products under the Simplicity brand but did not take legal responsibility for products made under its previous owners. So, when the CPSC asked SFCA to recall the deadly bassinets, it refused. Despite the legal loopholes that let SFCA off the hook, the CPSC could have issued the bassinet recall after the first death in Missouri; that death occurred months before Simplicity assets were sold. Such quick action might have also saved the little girl in Kansas who died last month. For some reason, the CPSC did nothing when it was informed of the baby’s death.