Childhood products giant Fisher-Price has re-announced a massive recall on one of its infant sleeper models after – despite the original recall nearly three years ago – dozens more babies lost their lives while they slept.
The first announcement of the recall, which affects 4.7 million units, came in April 2019 after more than 30 infants died inside the popular Rock ‘n Play Sleeper.
About 70 more deaths have been reported since the recall, at least eight of which occurred after the initial recall announcement, totaling approximately 100 deaths over 13 years.
Baby sleeper injuries are nothing new: the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which regulates most products on store shelves and issues product recalls, received more than 1,100 incident reports about inclined sleepers between January 2005 and June 2019.
In the January 2023 re-announcement, the CPSC repeated its plea that consumers stop using the Rock ‘n Play right away and contact Fisher-Price for a refund.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform reported in 2021 that Fisher-Price had not only minimized safety concerns about the sleeper before its release but knew of 14 infant deaths tied to it a full year before issuing the recall.
Many parents of the deceased infants have filed product liability lawsuits against Fisher-Price, alleging the company failed to warn consumers about the dangerous and defective product.
Why Are Infant Sleepers So Dangerous?
There are various products on the market designed to comfort and entertain infants, such as bouncers, swings and jumpers. But when Fisher-Price released the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper in 2009, it was marketed as a safer choice for sleeping than other options – despite being considered very dangerous by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
These products are inclined somewhere between 10 and 30 degrees. But any incline directly contradicts the “ABCs” baby sleeping method recommended by the AAP. For safe sleep, babies should be:
- Flat on their Back
- In a Crib free from anything that could cause suffocation, like blankets or toys
When a baby falls asleep in an inclined position, their head could slump forward into the chest and obstruct the airway. Babies can also roll onto their faces and suffocate or keep rolling and fall out entirely, risking a fall injury or becoming trapped underneath the sleeper.
Researchers determined that an incline greater than 10 degrees is unsafe. The CPSC agreed, issuing a ban on all such sleepers in 2021. And in May 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act, which outlaws all sleepers exceeding 10 degrees. It also bans all crib bumpers – fabric pads tied to the insides of cribs intended to protect from head injuries or becoming stuck.
Fisher-Price stopped selling the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper immediately following the 2019 recall, but baby products often remain in circulation long after being discontinued. Busy parents may miss recall notices, about 400 of which the CPSC issues every year. And baby items are often handed down or sold to other parents.
Soon after the recall, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Kids in Danger, a child product safety nonprofit, surveyed 376 licensed childcare facilities in three states and found that one in ten had children under 12 months still using the sleepers.
If you have a Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, stop using it immediately. Go to the product’s recall page for more safety information and to begin the recall process in which you can receive a refund or voucher.
If you or someone you know has a child injured by an inclined sleeper, you have the right to file a product liability lawsuit.
Do I Need a Product Liability Lawyer?
Product liability means that every person or entity who designed, manufactured, distributed or sold a dangerous or defective product can be held responsible for injury or wrongful death caused by that product.
If you purchased a Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and your baby was harmed, you have the right to file a lawsuit and seek financial compensation. Possible damages include medical bills, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and more.
However, product liability claims are challenging for many reasons.
Lawsuits in which more than one party is likely responsible are more complicated than those against a single negligent person. And major companies like Fisher-Price have the financial means to have a legal team of attorneys who know how to protect them. Finally, because each state has its own definition of product liability, winning a lawsuit requires a thorough understanding of those laws and the skill to meet the burden of proof that the defective product was the cause of the injury.
The strict requirements of a product liability claim are difficult to achieve on your own. A knowledgeable Louisiana product liability attorney can gather the necessary information, documents, witness statements and other requirements for a successful case
The product liability lawyers at Herman, Herman & Katz have a long record of successful cases and will be with you every step of the way. For more information or a free case review, call 844-943-7627 or fill out our online contact form to see if you have a claim.
Jed Cain is a partner with Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC. He has dedicated his career to representing injured folks and their families.