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Safety Problems Reported for 2nd Time Over Aqua-Leisure Pool Floats for Babies

Mar 17, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

A baby’s water float called the Ticklish Turtle is facing calls for a national recall following a Team 5 Investigates report concerning safety complaints about the defective pool toy, reports the Boston Channel.  Ticklish Turtle is manufactured by Aqua-Leisure Industries of Avon, Mass.

The investigative team secured internal corporate documents which confirm that Aqua-Leisure received four complaints last July alone, said the Boston Channel.  Statements included:  "10-month-old went right through the seat" ... "Call regarding child going through the seat" ... "Child almost drowned," Boston Channel reported.  Despite these chilling reports, Aqua-Leisure opted to allow the defective and dangerous product to remain on shelves and did not issue a recall.

"That is a pattern of a problem," said former Aqua-Leisure customer service supervisor, Robert St. Jacques regarding the complaints, reported the Boston Channel.  St. Jacques worked at the firm when the complaints were received, saying  "I brought it to their attention immediately.  I am not shy to let them know if a product has a potential injury or serious drowning issue. That's my job,” adding that he put his concerns in writing to his management stating, "This product could lead to injuries, if not a child drowning."

Team 5 Investigates revealed that the SunSmart Float, also manufactured by Aqua-Leisure and described by Boston Channel as being “nearly identical” to the Ticklish Turtle, was recalled in 2001 following a dozen complaints to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that resulted in the agency reporting that the float’s seat was “tearing and causing children to fall into the water."

Aqua-Leisure's Chief Financial Officer Ken Meewes said, "This is definitely not the environment for a toy manufacturer to be getting an action from the CPSC.  We certainly do not want to make a recall, but we are in a tough spot because this item was recalled once before," quoted Boston Channel.  

Barry Fireman, a vice president at Aqua-Leisure told Boston Channel that while he is aware of the four reports from July that such so-called “close calls” out of a million products did not warrant action and, besides, "We thought that we didn't have an issue there because in our testing and our oversight on it, we couldn't replicate what was said," Fireman told Boston Channel.

The Pittsburgh Channel reported that the CPSC said it is reviewing the complaints.

It remains unknown, said Boston Channel, if Aqua-Leisure is in compliance with federal requirements mandating company executives to report safety complaints to the CPSC.  What is known is that Aqua-Leisure strengthened the product’s seat and changed its name from Ticklish Turtle to Turtle Baby Boat, said Boston Channel, noting that Fireman acknowledged that the defective product remains in stores and homes.

The Pittsburgh Channel noted that customers who purchased the old product can contact the company at Aqua-Leisure’s Customer Care Center toll-free at 1-866-807-3998 or via email at customercare@aqualeisure.com for instructions on a refund or voucher.

Meanwhile, said the Pittsburgh Channel, Aqua-Leisure issued a statement that said, in part, that it stopped making the Ticklish Turtle Baby Boat Float last year and replaced it with the similar Turtle Sunshade Float, which is has a stronger leg divider, is made with a thicker vinyl, and will be marketed this year.


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