The House Committee on Oversight and Reform (HCOR) has recently investigated Fisher-Price and its now-recalled Rock n’ Play Sleeper product. The sleeper was recalled in 2019 after more than 50 infants passed away due to suffocation and smothering, which could occur if a baby rolled over in the sleeper. However, the HCOR investigation concluded that the baby product manufacturer never tested the sleeper for potential dangers before selling it and that it ignored valid concerns about its design for more than a decade.
The HCOR report was released just ahead of a recent Congressional hearing about the dangers of the Rock n’ Play sleeper. Because Fisher-Price is a subsidiary of Mattel, Ynon Kreiz, the CEO of Mattel, was at the hearing, as well as Fisher-Price Senior Vice President Chuck Scothon.
CPSC Faces Criticism as Well
During passionate testimonies from parents who had lost their children due to suffocation accidents involving the Rock n’ Player sleeper, not all of the blame and frustration was aimed at Fisher-Price. There were also plenty of fingers pointed at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which is meant to help take dangerous consumer products off shelves or prevent them from ever reaching the market. The apparent dangers of the Rock n’ Play sleeper have underlined holes in CPSC protocols that allow many product manufacturers the leeway to create and follow their own safety standards.
To try to quell some of the upset, the CPSC announced a bit before the hearing that it would improve the federal safety standard for any infant sleeper product. The change would not be active until 2022, though.
What Did Fisher-Price Do or Not Do?
According to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Fisher-Price was warned in 2008 about the inherent risk to infants placed in an inclined sleeper like the Rock n’ Play sleeper product. When the company consulted medical professionals about this risk and the design of the product, it apparently only spoke to a single doctor who was not a pediatrician. Later, the same doctor would face accusations for practice fraud and medical license issues.
By early 2018, Fisher-Price knew of at least 14 infant fatalities caused by the Rock n’ Play sleeper. Yet it would not be a year until the company took any actions to begin recalling the product. It has been posited that the company was hesitant to recall the product or even issue a warning because it is a best-seller item, with nearly 5 million units sold overall. Fisher-Price representatives have been adamant about challenging any such accusations or theories. The company has also said that it completed ample safety research while designing the Rock n’ Play sleeper, but it is not clear if the HROC was able to find that research.
For more information about the HROC report on the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play sleeper, you can click here to view a full article from NPR. If you need legal help in Atlanta after an unsafe infant sleeper product harmed your child, you can call (888) 425-6070 and connect with Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC. Our attorneys are known for their personal and professional commitment to doing the most for our clients and their cases.