Second Suit Filed Over Crocs and Escalator InjuriesSep 10, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP According to the Associated Press (AP), the family of a child whose foot was maimed in an escalator accident at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is suing Colorado-based Crocs™ Inc., saying Crocs™ failed to place safety features in its shoes. This is the second federal lawsuit filed this summer involving a child wearing Crocs™ who was injured on escalators at the airport; at least three other children were also injured in the last three months while wearing Crocs™ there.
The recent lawsuit was filed on August 26 by Clark Meyer, father of a four-year-old boy identified as "A.M." The lawsuit is seeking $2 million in damages and alleges that “A.M.” was riding an escalator at the airport on July 15 when the escalator’s machinery mangled his Crocs™ and "severely and permanently damaged" his right foot. Crocs™ spokeswoman Tia Mattson declined to comment.
A three-year-old girl from Louisville, Kentucky, was also injured when an escalator ripped skin from her foot and broke three of her toes this June and another child was injured at a Los Angeles mall. The same attorney is handling all three cases and has settled two other cases with Crocs™. The attorney states that Croc blames escalators and inattentive parents, but argues that this could only be the case if the same escalator had been involved in each incident.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) documented “77 soft shoe entrapments on escalators since January 2006 and issued a warning in May,” according to the AP. In a 16-page letter to the CPSC this June, Croc’s™ engineering director, Erik Olson, said it was aware of 186 accidents involving Crocs™ and initiated "safety investigations." Despite that, Olson added that, "Crocs™ shoes neither present nor introduce a unique hazard pattern when worn by children or adults on escalators."
Atlanta airport began posting signs and airing public service announcements last month, warning travelers of the dangers of "shoe entrapment" on escalators and Georgia Department of Labor workers examined the escalators and deemed them safe. Meanwhile, Japanese and Filipino authorities recently asked Crocs™ to consider changing the shoe’s design because of similar escalator accidents in their countries. Crocs™ promised to insert safety tags into its packaging by next year.
In recent months, rubber clogs, such as Crocs™ and including imitators, have come under increased scrutiny due to escalator accidents involving children. A child in Singapore lost her big toe wearing rubber clogs that resembled Crocs™, but were an imitation brand. Also, safety groups in the U.S. and Japan have issued warnings about soft-sided flexible clogs posing safety hazards to escalator riders. Typically, the shoe becomes entrapped when the rider is stepping on or off the escalator or standing too close to the side.
The New York Daily News reported that a three-year-old girl was "severely and permanently" injured in November when her Crocs™-clad foot was caught in a JFK airport escalator, injuring her big toe. The Washington Post reported that a four-year-old boy wearing Crocs™ suffered an injured toe when his foot got caught on an escalator in a mall in Virginia last September of 2007.