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Graco Recalling 2 Million Strollers After Infant Deaths: Safety Advocates Question What Took So Long

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Attention parents: Graco Children’s Products recently announced the voluntary recall of 2 million older-model strollers after receiving reports of child strangulation and death. The strollers, manufactured before July 2007, are tied to the deaths of 4 infants, as well as five instances of entrapment that resulted in breathing difficulties, bruises, and cuts. The recall specifically applies to Graco Models Quattro Tour and MetroLite strollers and travel systems (car seat and stroller combinations) sold between November 2000 and December 2007. The strollers were sold at numerous retailers, including Babies “R” Us, Kmart, Navy Exchange, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart.

Some consumer advocates are questioning what took the company so long to recall the dangerous strollers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission first started an investigation into the strollers after receiving one report of an infant death in 2003. Staff members of the CPSC then reported their findings to an industry committee that issues voluntary safety standards for the children’s products. However, in 2005 Patricia L. Hackett, directorate of engineering sciences at the CPSC issued an additional letter to the industry group pleading them to expedite revisions to the stroller safety standards. In that letter she also noted that two additional children had died as a result of strangulation in Graco strollers. Finally, in 2008, the industry group issued a revised standard requiring a larger opening between the seat and stroller tray.

Graco President Doug McGraw recently stated that at the time of the infant deaths, Graco strongly believed that, if used properly, its strollers were safe. Therefore, instead of a recall they decided to “increase” their education efforts to inform consumers on the proper methods of using strollers. In addition, McGraw maintains that the recent recall was prompted by the large number of parents buying and selling secondhand strollers due to the economy. Graco is offering a repair kit for the faulty strollers, but insists that there is no need to return them. The affected model numbers are posted on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site (www.cpsc.gov) and on the company’s website at www.gracobaby.com. The model numbers are on a label just above the rear wheels or underneath the stroller. To order a repair kit, owners can call Graco at (877) 828-4046.