Suit Filed Over Recalled Bassinets

infant deathsThe distributor of Simplicity bassinets, which were recalled nationwide after two infants died from injuries caused to them due to suffocation, has been named as the defendant in a lawsuit. The suit alleges that SFCA Inc, which acquired Simplicity in 2007, ignored the recall.


In August, dozens of retailers recalled Simplicity bassinets. On August 21, a 6-month-old girl from Shawnee, Kansas was trapped between the metal bars of the bassinet and suffocated. In 2007, a 4-month-old girl from Noel, Missouri became trapped between the bars and suffocated. Those two incidents prompted a massive recall which affected nearly 900,000 bassinets. It was determined that the bassinets’ metal bars were spaced farther apart than federal standards allow.


At the time of the second baby’s death, Simplicity was already having financial woes, much of which was due to another massive crib recall issued in the summer of 2007. Two months later, SCFA, an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital, a private-equity fund with $88 million dollars under management, purchased Simplicity in an auction. Under the deal, SFCA purchased the right to sell products under the Simplicity brand, but took no legal responsibility for products manufactured under its previous owners. Due to that legal loophole, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) was required to ask retailers to recall the Simplicity bassinets.


In announcing her lawsuit, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan criticized both SFCA and the CPSC for the manner in which the recall was handled. She said that an investigation revealed that SFCA continued distributing the recalled bassinets, despite the serious risks posed to children.


Madigan wants a recall implemented by SFCA that would be publicized in newspapers. Her suit also seeks a refund for retailers forced to take on the costs of the recall. Madigan also said tougher action should be taken by the CPSC when it is necessary for cribs or bassinets to be recalled. She criticized the commission’s policy of allowed manufacturers to respond to recalls by issuing repair kits and said recall notices are unnecessarily complicated and confusing for consumers.


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