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Simplicity, CPSC Get Failing Marks for Simplicity and Graco Crib Recall

Jan 29, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Graco and Simplicity cribs, recalled in the fall of 2007, continue to be best sellers.  This despite the fact that the manufacturer, Simplicity Cribs, waited so long to recall the faulty cribs, which were implicated in the deaths of at several children.  Apparently, many parents still trust Simplicity and Graco cribs, even though Simplicity never issued refunds for the dangerous cribs, and took weeks to get repair kits to owners of the recalled Simplicity and Graco cribs.

In September 2007, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall for 1.2 million Simplicity and Graco cribs because a flaw in the design of the cribs allowed parents to install the drop rail upside down. When this happened, the drop rail could separate from the crib, creating a gap into which a child could fall and suffocate. The recall was so urgent that in issuing it, the CPSC warned parents not to allow their child to sleep in the defective cribs “for one more night” until they obtained and installed a repair kit.  By the time the CPSC issued its Graco and Simplicity crib recall notice, it had received 55 reports of children being trapped by the cribs, and it knew of three infants who had been killed because of the defect.

But it didn’t have to be that way.  According to a Chicago Tribune investigation, the CPSC first encountered the cribs when it investigated the death of little Liam Johns in April 2005. Liam’s mother had found him hanging in a gap between his crib’s drop rail and mattress, where he had suffocated. During the investigation, the CPSC inspector assigned to Liam’s case never even bothered to inspect the crib where the baby had died. Even worse, when the final report on the baby’s death was released by the CPSC, it failed to note the crib’s manufacturer and model. The CPSC did not issue a recall for the Simplicity and Graco cribs at that time. As a result, in the years after Liam’s death, millions of parents purchased the Simplicity and Graco cribs, unaware of the dangers they held.

When the CPSC did finally recall the Simplicity and Graco cribs, the action came only after it had learned that the Chicago Tribune was investigating the deaths of Liam and the two other children. According to the reporter working on the Tribune investigation, the CPSC finally inspected one of the cribs after he had called the agency seeking comments for his story. Three days later, the CPSC issued the crib recall.

Simplicity’s performance in the crib recall wasn’t much better.  Instead of giving refunds to parents who bought the faulty Simplicity and Graco cribs, the company offered purchasers a kit to fix them.  Unfortunately, those repair kits weren’t available for several weeks after the recall. What’s worse, some parents who asked Simplicity to overnight repair kits were never told that they weren’t ready. Rather, Simplicity sent out replacement parts that don’t even include installation instructions. Apparently, the replacement parts hadn’t even been approved by the CPSC.  It wasn’t until October 26, more than a month after the recall, that purchasers of the recalled Simplicity and Graco cribs finally received the right repair kits.


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