Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleepers Linked to 30 Plus Baby Deaths ‘Were not Tested’
Few events are more harrowing than the death of a child in a crib or a rocker that is meant to provide protection. The Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper has been a popular product with parents for more than a decade. The company sold millions. Now the sleepers are off the shelves after a report linked them to more than 30 infant deaths.
We expect children’s products to be meticulously tested. However, alarming new reports suggest the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play was not tested at all.
The notion that a big manufacturer like Fisher-Price would fail to test a product it would sell to millions of parents, begs belief. However, it comes from a well-sourced report in The Washington Post. The authors of the report rewind the clock to 2009. A team of engineers at the toy company thought they had solved one of the most pressing problems for new parents: how to get their babies to sleep. They invented an inclined sleeper and named it the Rock ‘n Play. The Post article explained how the sleeper cradled infants on their backs thanks to a padded frame at a 30-degree angle. It was compared to a recliner. The marketing explained how babies could “sleep at a comfortable incline all night long.”
The Fisher-Price employee who dreamed up the product said no other sleeper on the market could safely do what the Rock ’n Play product did for babies. Almost 5 million of the sleepers were sold over the next 10 years retailing at $50 to $80. The employee’s hunch may have made Fisher-Price a lot of money. However, his belief a baby could safely sleep at an angle was wide of the mark.
The Post reported how Fisher-Price carried out no clinical research on the safety of the sleeper. The company failed to consult pediatricians. Instead, it spoke to one family doctor in Texas who since lost his license to practice medicine.
Fisher-Price apparently did not consult a pediatrician until it worked on its case to fight a defective products lawsuit eight years later.
Nancy Cowles of the consumer advocacy group Kids in Danger was shocked by the report. She said:
”It would never cross anyone’s mind that it wasn’t tested for safety.”
The Rock ’n Play sleeper has since been linked to a series of child deaths. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission did not act until 2019. The commission helped coordinate the recall of the popular sleepers. It said more than 30 babies died in the sleepers when they turned over while unrestrained. Nevertheless, regulators did not blame the product fairly and squarely for the deaths. Instead, it took a report in Consumer Reports magazine to trigger the recall. Two weeks after the publication of the article, 700,000 inclined sleepers made by another firm, Kids II, were recalled following reports of five deaths.
What is the Cause of Deaths in Rock ’n Play Sleepers?
The deaths in the Fisher-Price sleepers were caused by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS is associated with the period when babies sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics says as many as 4,700 babies die of SIDS every year.
So-called “crib death,” occurs without warning and is associated with a period of slumber. A diagnosis of SIDS is given when no explanation can be provided for an infant fatality after a complete postmortem examination. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between a month and 1 year of age.
Fisher-Price is Hit With Class Action Lawsuits
Parents whose babies died in Rock ’n Play sleepers filed lawsuits against Fisher-Price in April. The first of the two lawsuits was filed by a Delaware couple who lost their 12-week old daughter. It is expected to potentially include claimants across the nation. A second lawsuit was filed in New York and is expected to include parents across that state.
The Delaware lawsuit is is likely to include claimants who purchased the sleepers, as well as parents whose children were hurt. The lawsuits seek unspecified damage. Details were contained in an article in USA Today.
The lawsuit said the litigation is too late to save the lives of over 30 infants and many other child injuries caused by the Rock ’n Play Sleeper. It claims the product causes death or injury to infants due to its defective design that allows them to move into positions where they cannot breathe.
We believe more deaths and injuries may be linked to this popular sleeper. Children, particularly babies, are very fragile. Sadly, time and time again we see improperly tested and dangerous products on the market ranging from Graco car seats that failed to unbuckle in an accident to drop-side cribs that were subjected to a massive recall after reports of baby deaths.
If you own a Rock ’n Play sleeper please contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission for details on the recall.
At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, our product liability team files lawsuits against the manufacturers of defective products. Please call our Norfolk-based attorneys today if you or your child has been hurt by a dangerous device.