Beast of Burden (BOB) strollers is a brand of jogging strollers that are marketed as the quintessential carriage system for avid runners to go out with their children or infants. Unfortunately, this quintessential product comes with some rather high risks. Many consumers have reported that the BOB strollers contain dangerous defects, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has made not one, but two attempts to initiate a BOB stroller recall. Despite this, BOB and parent company Britax have denied any and all wrongdoing.
Mounting A Case For A BOB Stroller Recall
The BOB line of strollers has had a history of consumer complaints due to perceived defects and issues. In the six-year period between 2012 and 2018, more than 200 reports were filed with the CPSC concerning injuries caused by BOB strollers. That averages out to more than 33 injury complaints filed each year, or almost three complaints every month for six years.
The last incidence of a consumer defect report was filed on October 25, 2018. In the follow-up report of the filing, Saferproducts.gov reported that while jogging, the front wheel of the BOB dislodged and the BOB crashed with the two children inside falling “face first onto the concreate (sic)” with the caller suffering damage to their knee. When the caller brought the information of this crash to the manufacturer, Britax Child Safety, they were informed that because the swivel of the BOB was not secured, they were not liable for any of the injuries. The caller informed the dispatcher that when the swivel is attached the BOB it can only move in a straight line and they believe that the BOB is defective.
From this illustrated example, the CPSC began to look into the possibility of a BOB stroller recall. What happened next is considered by some to be an example of legal and political maneuvering.
The issue described in the CPSC report was the spontaneous, random failure of the quick-release lever that holds the front wheel on the stroller. When this lever fails, the front wheel to detaches. For a device designed for active use, like a jogging stroller, the CSPC believed that this warranted action on behalf of consumers.
In 2017, the CPSC requested a voluntary BOB stroller recall of 500,000 units that the CSPC argued posed a threat to consumer wellbeing. The request was denied by Britax Child Safety who stated that the BOB stroller recall was unlawful because their product met the exact definition of industry standards for safety and legality. According to Britax, the issue did not lie with the company, but with the “improper use” of their products.
While Britax firmly defended their product as safe, it should be noted that Pacific Cycle, another manufacturer who used the quick-locking lever system, recalled their quick-lock strollers voluntarily in 2016. The year before, more than 2 million bikers who used the quick-release lever also initiated voluntary recalls. Despite the precedent set, however, Britax Child Safety refused to voluntarily recall their 500,000 strollers and the CPSC began to prepare a lawsuit to force a BOB stroller recall.
The End Of The BOB Stroller Recall Lawsuit
In February of 2018, The Consumer Product Safety Commission filed a lawsuit against Britax Child Safety. The defense for Britax maintained the stance that since their stroller met the agency standard for strollers their product could not be defective. The test in reference was a strong pull on the front wheel with and without the quick-release initiated.
As a counterpoint, assistant general counsel Mary Murphy, attorney to the CPSC stated: “The fact that there is a standard is not a bar to a defect finding.” Murphy’s argument was that the standard may not be sufficient and that numerous companies had initiated recalls in the past despite being in accordance with industry standards.
At its inception, the case seemed to be able to go either way. However, some time after the case began, two new commission members were appointed, shifting the political balance from a 3-1 split to a 2-2 split. Following changes in the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s membership a request to issue a subpoena.
The subpoena was intended to call Britax employees to discuss the safety of the quick-release system. With the new CPSC members in opposition to the subpoena, the votes tied 2-2 and the subpoena was denied. WIthout the subpoena, CPSC did not produce ample legal evidence to meet their burden of proof and the lawsuit concluded without initiating a BOB stroller recall or a formal correction plan.
After the lawsuit, Britax, their current instructions were sufficient and even included a YouTube video on the proper methods of securing the wheel. Due in part to these preventative measures, Britax argued that the BOB stroller lawsuit would never have been valid. Despite these safety precautions, when the Washington Post examined the March 2019 view count for the Britax YouTube safety video, it was 195 views.
An additional point uncovered by the Post, Britax alone spent more than $40,000 in lobbying in 2018 to cut back on regulations the CPSC could enforce. For more stories about consumer recalls on products affecting young children, see Parker Waichman’s coverage of magnetic toy recalls here.
Obtaining Compensation Without A BOB Stroller Recall
Although the CPSC’s failure to force Britax into initiating a BOB stroller recall may seem like a loss for many consumers hoping to pursue damages for their case, this one suit is not the end of litigation potential against Britax. A product liability lawsuit could still be filed stating that the BOB strollers made before 2015 contain a design defect. While Britax may argue that there are no defects in their product, an experienced legal team may find a way to leverage the more than 200 cases in which the BOB stroller has injured parents and children in the course of normal use as advertised by BOB. If you or a loved one are looking to pursue compensation with a team of experienced trial lawyers, let Parker Waichman LLP introduce you to some. At Parker Waichman LLP, their lawyers are ready to pursue any solid case against the manufacturers of these patently unsafe products. Contact Parker Waichman today for a free consultation.