When babies started suffocating in cribs, company executives pointed the finger at caregivers. Four deaths later, Fisher-Price finally recalled the Rock ‘n Glide Soother, along with a related product, the Soothe ‘n Play Glider.
The Rock ‘n Glide soother rocks babies back and forth to help them go to sleep.
Four babies died in less than a year after they turned over and suffocated in the moving crib. The oldest victim was four months old.
The Soothe ‘n Play Gilder has a similar dangerous design; however, this product is designed to occupy babies instead of put them to sleep.
In 2019, Fisher-Price recalled almost five million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers, products which were similar to the Rock ‘n Glide Soother.
The company insisted that caregivers’ failure to properly restrain infants, as opposed to a product danger, killed more than thirty babies.
Fisher-Prince General Manager Chuck Scothon issued this statement regarding most recent recall.
“We are committed to educating parents and caregivers on the safe use of all of our products, including the importance of following all warnings and instructions to ensure the health and safety of babies and children.”
Corporate Liability for Defective Products
Every year, large corporations spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns which tout their commitment to health and safety.
The relentless pursuit of profits often prompts these companies to overlook obvious product dangers.
These huge companies may determine that it is cheaper to pay injury lawsuit settlements than to make changes and make their products safe.
Metal-on-Metal hip implants are a good example of all these things. Initially, Zimmer, Biomet, and other artificial hip makers touted their wares as medical breakthroughs which basically transformed older adults into the Six Million Dollar Man.
Artificial hip issues are usually related to one of two product defects:
- Design Defect: With every step patients take, the all-metal parts in a MoM hip implant grind against each other. Over time, the microscopic metal fragments build up in the bloodstream and cause metallosis. This condition weakens the body and also weakens the implant. So premature failure is usually an issue.
- Manufacturing Defect: Other times, these gadgets fail even faster. Some companies use cheap imported metal parts which cannot stand up to the wear and tear active adults place on their metal hips. Such parts might also cause a different form of metallosis. Many of these components have high levels of mercury, lead, and other dangerous heavy metals.
Frequently, an experienced personal injury attorney can establish liability for defective product injuries without proving the product itself was unsafe.
Many companies know about the elevated risks their shortcuts cause. Yet they do not adequately warn consumers about these elevated risks.
That failure to warn could independently support a successful damage claim.
Our legal team usually partners with industry experts who lend their expert opinions about label design, the “magic words” required, and other such issues.
The Misuse Defense
Speaking of labels, almost all products contain usage warning labels. These Fisher-Price products warned caregivers to strap infants in, because of the risk of strangulation.
Companies usually apply these labels thinking that the assumption of the risk defense would insulate them from liability in these cases.
This legal doctrine derails damage claims if the victim voluntarily assumed a known risk.
Frequently, people who ignore “Beware of Dog” signs and play with savage dogs are financially responsible for their own injuries.
But assumption of the risk is a negligence defense. A dangerous product claim is a strict liability claim. These victims must only prove cause. There’s no need to prove negligence, carelessness, or anything else, at least at this stage.
A variation of this defense, the unforeseeable misuse defense, sometimes applies.
If victims use products in unforeseeable ways and are injured, the company might not be legally responsible for damages.
This doctrine might apply to Homer Simpson’s snack-related mishap. Plunging one’s arms into two vending machines is clearly unforeseeable.
However, it’s entirely foreseeable (possible) that someone might get mad at a vending machine and physically abuse it.
The bottom line is that companies usually cannot hide behind warning labels and escape legal responsibility for the injuries their dangerous products cause.
No amount of money can possibly make up for any wrongful death, especially a tiny infant.
But the compensatory damages available help survivors pick up the pieces and carry on with their lives.
Additional punitive damages are usually available in these cases as well. As mentioned, fault or negligence is not relevant to liability.
But it is relevant to the amount of punitive damages. These additional damages punish companies which place profits before people.
These corporations are usually used to making their own rules. Damage claims are one of the few areas where ordinary consumers are in the driver’s seat.
Defective products often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC.