Colorado-based Boppy Co. recalled over three million loungers after eight infants died as they rested in the company’s baby furniture products.
The affected products are the Boppy Preferred Newborn Loungers, Boppy Original Newborn Loungers, and Pottery Barn Kids Boppy Newborn Loungers.
According to the government, infants can slip onto their sides or stomachs and suffocate. “Loungers and pillow-like products are not safe for infant sleep, due to the risk of suffocation,” said acting CPSC chairman Robert S. Adler.
“Since we know that infants sleep so much of the time – even in products not intended for sleep – and since suffocation can happen so quickly, these Boppy lounger products are simply too risky to remain on the market.”
In response, the company shifted blame to caregivers who allegedly added pillows, padded crib bumpers, blankets, or other items to the lounger.
These items were “not marketed as an infant sleep product and include warnings against unsupervised use,” the company insisted in a statement. Nevertheless, it said it would comply with the recall order and issue refunds.
Wrongful Death Claims
All the money in the world could not possibly fill the emotional void which a wrongful death causes. However, financial compensation reduces the grief survivors feel and at least temporarily redirects their thoughts.
The decedent would have wanted these things. Furthermore, survivors need compensation to pay things like final expenses.
Although a New York personal injury attorney cannot turn back the clock and reverse a tragedy, an attorney can obtain compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses,
- Decedent’s final medical bills,
- Decedent’s pain and suffering,
- Lost future financial support, and
- Lost future emotional support.
If the decedent was a child, the parents might also be entitled to compensation for their own grief and suffering, either directly or as part of a separate injury claim.
Items like lost future support are very difficult to determine. That’s especially true if the decedent was a small child.
Therefore, attorneys usually partner with outside professionals, like psychologists and accountants, to determine a fair amount of compensation in these areas.
Usually, this compensation is available if the victim/plaintiff establishes negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. However, defective product claims work differently, as outlined below.
Compensation is different in serious or catastrophic injury claims. These victims are usually entitled to money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Defective Products Issues
When it comes to product safety, consumers are essentially at the mercy of product manufacturers. There is very little oversight during the development and production process.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains strict product safety standards which manufacturers are supposed to follow, but they can just as easily ignore.
The next time the CSPC intervenes, if at all, is when there are verified reports of serious injuries. By that time, many families have been adversely affected.
A basic negligence standard would not effectively protect consumers in this environment. Therefore, product makers are strictly liable for:
- Manufacturing Defects: To cut costs and increase profit margins, manufactures often use cheap parts which are not up to the task. Other times, manufacturers ignore assembly line problems, such as an awl that does not bore a hole in the right place, so the bolt easily comes loose.
- Design Defects: Frequently, the problem occurs before the assembly line starts. Common design defects in children’s furniture include excessive padding, a surface that’s too curved or too flat, overly complex assembly instructions, and inadequate restraints.
Lack of cause and unforeseeable misuse are the only two effective defenses in these claims. Causation disputes usually arise in dangerous drug claims.
A Monsanto scientist once famously claimed that “You could drink a whole quart” of Roundup and suffer no ill effects. When the television host challenged him to take a sip, he refused. “I’m not stupid,” he said shortly before walking off the stage.
The unforeseeable misuse defense often comes up in other consumer product claims.
The manufacturer argues that the victim misused the product, and that misuse substantially caused injury, as opposed to the product itself. Placing a baby in a lounger on his/her side or stomach is a classic example of this claim.
However, for this defense to hold up in court, the misuse must usually be off the rails, such as placing a baby in the lounger, putting the lounger on top of the car, and driving away.
In addition to the compensatory damages outlined above, jurors often award substantial punitive damages in these cases. These damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the manufacturer intentionally disregarded a known risk.
Defective products often cause serious or fatal injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. Home, virtual, and hospital visits are available.