Over the recent months, we have posted on a big issue within corporate giant General Motors; whether and when corporate executives knew of a problem with their ignition switches prior to the massive recall this past year. The company has recalled these ignition devices after they are alleged to have caused serious and fatal injuries in several cases. One of the most difficult aspects of the GM recall is the culture that allowed knowledge of these defects to be kept from regulators and the general public. When we hear of situations like this, we hope that this is isolated within the culture of a particular company. But recently it has come to light that another American manufacturer may also have known of defects and kept that knowledge from regulators and the general public. This time the product is something used to carry precious cargo, our children.
We have just learned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun an investigation into the kids corporate giant, Graco Children’s Products. The issue they are reviewing is whether the company failed to inform American consumers that there was a major issue with its car safety seats for children. The agency has announced that it intends to determine when the company knew that its child seats had a major safety issue. The issue with the seats involves difficulty consumers have had in getting their children unbuckled.
This past summer after the federal agency began to learn of this problem, Graco recalled nearly two million infant car seats that were manufactured between 2010 and 2013. The recall has grown to over six million seats and expanded years, including those sold by Evenflo which also used the faulty buckle. The company has offered to replace these faulty buckles that apparently have become tough to open after liquids have been spilled on them; something that most parents and caregivers know will happen with toddlers in the seat. Graco also will replace buckles of seats not included in the recall. This is now the largest recall of infant and child car seats in history.
So what is at stake when a company allegedly fails to inform regulators of a safety problem with their products? The potential fines for Graco are quite large. They might incur fines in the range of $30 million dollars in the event that the company is determined to have failed to bring the issue to the attention of the federal government. The fact that the product is intended to protect infants and children makes it even more problematic because the public trust is even more key when it comes to kids products. Graco has issued a statement that they will fully cooperate with the federal agency in the investigation.
When a company sells a product that is defective and that product causes injury or damage, consumers may have a claim for serious or fatal injuries. At least one case has been filed against Graco on behalf of parents who could not release their child for nearly one hour due to the faulty buckle. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident or by a defective product, contact Scholle Law for a free consultation regarding your legal options.