A proposed class action claims Baby Trend, Inc. has failed to appropriately warn consumers that an alleged design defect in certain strollers poses a head and neck entrapment hazard, placing infants at risk of strangulation.
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The 45-page lawsuit comes almost five months after Baby Trend and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a joint warning on February 9 stating that a child’s head or neck can become trapped in the space in front of and behind the pivoting front canopy on Sit N’ Stand Double strollers with model numbers beginning with SS76 and Sit N’ Stand Ultra strollers with model numbers beginning with SS66.
The announcement was supposedly triggered by at least two entrapment incidents reported to Baby Trend, one involving a 14-month-old infant who asphyxiated and died after their neck was caught in the space between the front of the canopy tube and the armrest, the suit relays. In another instance, bruise marks were left on the neck of a 17-month-old child who became stuck in the space between the back of the canopy tube and back of the front seat, the case says.
Despite these potentially lethal safety risks, Baby Trend actively conceals the alleged defect from caregivers and continues to misleadingly market the products as “the safest, most reliable” way to transport infants and toddlers in both seated and standing positions, the suit contends. In reality, the products’ spacing issue renders the strollers “unsafe and unfit” for their intended purpose, “entirely worthless,” or, at the very least, “substantially diminished in value,” the case claims.
As a result, the filing argues that Baby Trend has “unjustly profited from the manufacture and sale of the Noticed Products and unreasonably put infants at risk of development of strangulation.”
According to the complaint, the baby gear company had been on notice and aware of the strollers’ entrapment hazard long before its February 2023 warning was published. The suit alleges Baby Trend, as an experienced manufacturer, detected the defect during pre-sale safety testing but made a “business decision not to take action” before putting the strollers up for sale in 2009.
What’s more, when the family of the deceased 14-month-old infant filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baby Trend in 2021, a report prepared in connection with the litigation revealed that the company had received at least five reports made as far back as 2010 that alerted it to the child asphyxiation risk, the case contends.
For example, the company was notified in June 2013 that a child had his “neck crushed, head stuck, arm smashed, [and] arm stuck” in the stroller’s entrapment area, the suit relays. In July 2014, Baby Trend was informed that a 19-month-old “slipped through in between the seat and child tray,” became stuck and started choking, the lawsuit adds.
“[The] [d]efendant thus knew of the safety defect and its associated manifestations and damage but made no substantive design modifications to eliminate the defect,” the case states.
The filing further claims that at the point of sale, consumers have no way of knowing the dangerous nature of the strollers. The plaintiff, a California consumer who bought the defendant’s Sit N’ Stand Double stroller in April 2022, says he believed the product would be safe for his children since its packaging revealed no critical safety hazards, such as the risk of strangulation and death.
However, it wasn’t long until the man’s infant child fell through spacing in the stroller into the “diaper bag” carriage underneath, the suit claims. The plaintiff says he later discovered Baby Trend’s notice concerning the product’s strangulation hazard and has since stopped using the stroller.
“Had Plaintiff known or otherwise been made aware of the defect in the Product, he would not have purchased it or would have paid significantly less for it,” the complaint reads.
Notably, Baby Trend inaccurately reported in a February 2023 statement provided to NBC News that both the company and the CPSC agree that its Sit N’ Stand Double and Ultra strollers are “completely safe when used as intended and in accordance with the company’s operating instructions,” the lawsuit relays. In truth, the agency has not determined that the products are “completely safe,” an updated version of the article reports.
Baby Trend plays the blame game, case claims
Although the alleged defect has rendered certain Baby Trend strollers “worthless” to parents, the defendant has failed to recall the products, provide a free replacement or reimburse consumers, the suit says.
Instead, Baby Trend “places the blame and burden on parents for purchasing its dangerous product instead of shouldering any responsibility for the defect whatsoever,” the case claims. Speaking to NBC News, the company said that the “tragic and exceedingly rare accident could have been altogether avoided if the young toddler had not been permitted to climb and play on the stroller, which was not being used as intended at the time,” the filing relays.
However, the complaint contends that as a “standing” stroller designed to transport children in a standing position, it is “reasonably foreseeable” that a child would climb on the exterior stroller.
Baby Trend also instructs parents to “mitigate the hazard” by fully securing children in the strollers and always using all five points of the built-in harness, though caretakers have no reason to believe the failure to use every point of the harness risks strangulation and death, the complaint asserts.
Who’s covered by the lawsuit?
The case looks to represent anyone in the United States who purchased Baby Trend Sit N’ Stand Double strollers with model numbers beginning with SS76 or Baby Trend Sit N’ Stand Ultra strollers with model numbers beginning with SS66 for personal use and not for resale during the applicable statute of limitations period.