Simplicity Crib Recall Came Four Years after First Complaint: Lawsuits Pending

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Washington, DCThree days after Simplicity and the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) launched a massive voluntary recall of defective Simplicity cribs, a class action lawsuit was filed in Minneapolis on behalf of a mother from Hanover Park whose one-year-old daughter had been sleeping in one of the defective cribs.

Luckily, her little girl escaped from becoming ensnared in her crib, and is alive and well. But other infants have not been so lucky, and Amber Spitzer is enraged that these cribs have been allowed to remain on the market so long after it first came to light that the cribs were defective.

graco crib recallDigging deeper into the story, one could expect more lawsuits to be filed - especially given that the first complaint was filed with Simplicity in 2003.

Four years and three infant deaths later, it took an expose by the Chicago Tribune and a fourth possible infant death this past Wednesday, to prompt the manufacturer and the CPSC to finally take action.

In the largest recall of full-sized cribs in U.S. history, one million Simplicity and Graco cribs were recalled due to a design flaw that could see the drop rail disengage, or come apart from the frame, leaving a space large enough for an infant to fall into. In most cases, but not all, the drop rail has the potential to be installed by consumers purchasing the crib upside down, deepening the risk.

That's what happened to nine-month-old Liam Johns, a toddler from Citrus Heights California, who asphyxiated after the drop rail came apart and he fell into the resulting gap. However, rather than falling to the floor, little Liam's head became wedged between the mattress and the frame, trapping the infant.

According to the Chicago Tribune's exhaustive investigation, Liam Johns died in April of 2005. At that time the CPSC investigated, and the Johns family sued the manufacturer.

Incredibly no recall, or public warning, was forthcoming.

The Tribune obtained records from the CPSC through the Freedom of Information act to confirm that the first complaint received by the Commission was in July of 2003. A woman from Meridian, Mass. reported the drop rail on her Simplicity crib suddenly lowered on its own, but did not separate, from the crib frame.

The manufacturer was contacted, and it was revealed at the time that Simplicity was aware of issues surrounding the drop rail, but chalked it up to improper assembly.

Then, less than a year later in February 2004, the first report arrived concerning a drop rail that separated completely from the frame. According to the Tribune, the mother of a five-month-old infant contacted Simplicity and was told that the problem was "no big deal."

Subsequent to these initial first reports, there have been countless instances where the drop rail has separated from the frame of affected cribs. In most cases the drop rail was installed upside down.

One might expect the drop rail not to work if installed incorrectly. However, the opposite is true, giving consumers the false impression that if the drop rail were working, then one would assume a correct installation.

In some reports, drop rails failed to remain in place, or separated from the frame without impacting the child. In others, infants have fallen right through the gap to the floor below, but survived unscathed.

And then there was 6-month-old Edward Millwood, who perished in November 2006 in Georgia.

And eight-month-old Royale Arceneaux of Houston died in February of this year.

More than mere statistics, Royale and Edward and Liam were living, breathing bundles of joy that became trapped in the space that is supposed to be the safest of all spaces for them next to their mother's arms - in their crib. All three children fell between the mattress and a separated drop rail, and perished.

And now there is a report of a fourth death, in Boca Raton Florida, on September 19th.

In announcing the recall, Simplicity is offering owners of the compromised crib a replacement drop rail kit. However Charles Kelly, a San Francisco-based product liability attorney who launched the class action suit Monday on behalf of Amber Spitzer, says the recall is grossly inadequate and irresponsible. In an interview that appeared in the September 24th edition of the Chicago Tribune, Kelly goes on to say, "...Simplicity should be required to tell consumers to dismantle their crib, and return it for a full refund.

"A retrofit kit only invites disaster," he continued. "Only one retrofit kit needs to be used incorrectly and we could have another death. It was improper assembly ... that caused the three deaths in the first instance."

Kelly represented the Johns family after their son Liam lost his life to a defective Simplicity crib in 2005. The latest class action suit alleges that Simplicity should have warned consumers about the defective cribs, and ceased all sales, after concerns were first brought to light.

There are also questions over the handling of this issue by the CPSC, which appears understaffed and without the tools to carry out comprehensive and thorough investigations. Kelly has requested that Congress look into holding Congressional hearings on the issue, and specifically why the recall came more than two years after the first infant death - that of little Liam Johns - was first reported.

More than one million of the cribs listed below are in circulation. Most were purchased new, but they have been known to show up in yard sales and used furniture stores.

If you have one of these cribs, you should stop using it immediately and dismantle the crib. While the manufacturer is offering a retrofit, pressure is building via litigation that a retrofit isn't enough, and that far more needs to be done to fix this once and for all.

So far, there have been 55 instances of drop rail failure documented, as well as reports of seven infants dropping into the resulting gap and surviving. Four infants have died.

Had the manufacturer, and the CPSC responded with due diligence when the first reports surfaced more than four years ago - four infants would be alive today.

Simplicity : Aspen 3 in 1, Aspen 4 in 1, Nursery-in-a-Box, Crib N Changer Combo, Chelsea and Pooh 4 in 1

Simplicity cribs using the Graco logo: Aspen 3 in 1, Ultra 3 in 1, Ultra 4 in 1, Ultra 5 in 1, Whitney and Trio

Crib Entrapment Legal Help

If your child has suffered damages in this hazardous product case, please contact a lawyer involved in a possible [Crib Entrapment Lawsuit] who will review your case at no cost or obligation.

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