• Tom Girardi

An old law could put your child at risk of injury or death

You would think that companies that make toys would make sure the items they make do not endanger children. Sadly, that isn't always the case.

In fact, at least one manufacturer recently faced accusations of hiding behind an old law to avoid recalling one of its products that has led to 19 to 32 infant fatalities. That company Fisher Price, and the product is the Rock 'n Play Sleeper. A similar product made by Kid II has led to some of the reported deaths. Fisher-Price allegedly knew about the dangers for years before finally recalling around 4.7 million products in April of this year.

Why did the recall occur now?

According to Consumer Reports, it received data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that the commission failed to redact as it usually does. The redaction happens in accordance with a controversial law that prohibits the CPSC from divulging the names of companies in its reports without their permission, even when the company has safety issues that have already caused injuries and deaths.

CR reviewed the unredacted information, which brought the above information to its attention, and it published the data on April 8. Within four days, Fisher-Price issued the recall. You may also be wondering whether this was just a coincidence. Perhaps it wasn't. Just two weeks later, Kid II followed suit and issued a recall of its own similar product. That recall involves 700,000 of the company's Bright Starts Playtime to Bedtime Sleepers and Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleepers.

What about this law?

Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act came about when companies complained to federal lawmakers that releasing their names before they have a chance to correct a defect or safety issue harms their reputations. The head of the CPSC at the time agreed with the companies. However, current members of the commission disagree with it, and for good reason.

Obviously, anonymity seems to allow certain companies to avoid taking the appropriate measures to safeguard consumers. Other federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration do not have this same restriction. Those agencies say this allows them to publicize information people need to know in order to avoid unnecessary injuries and deaths.

The information may come too late

Even when companies or government agencies issue recalls for dangerous products, the information often comes too late for some consumers. In the case of the rocking sleepers, parents lost their infant children. Some are pushing for the elimination of the requirements imposed on the CPSC, but until that happens, consumers will continue to suffer harm due to products that should have been recalled.

If you lost a child or your child suffered injuries as a result of a product you expected to be safe, you may be able to pursue compensation through the California civil courts. The more public this type of information becomes, the better the possibility is that no one else suffers the same fate.