In the wake of Graco’s decision to recall 3.8 million child safety seats last month because of a safety issue involving faulty buckles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now demanding to know why the manufacturer didn’t include 1.8 infant seats that use the same type of buckle. The car seat recall from February involved buckles that can get stuck when kids spill drink or food on them, making it difficult to release the latch button. In the event of an emergency and an adult needed to remove a child needed from a car seat right away but couldn’t, this safety issue could prove problematic.
The recall included 11 child seat models manufactured between 2009 and last year. At 3.8 million, it is the number four biggest child seat recall issued in this country to date. Graco noted that infant seats design to face the ear of the vehicle were not part of the recall because babies don’t typically spill or food on these seats.
While the government has been asking Graco to explain why it didn’t recall the other car seats, now, it’s giving the child safety seat maker until March 20 to give its explanation. NHTSA said it will fine Graco $7,000 day after that if the response it wants is late or not complete.
NHTSA documents show that to date, Graco has received over 6,100 consumer complaints about the car seat buckle. According to one NHTSA report, one mom said it took her 45 minutes to squeeze her toddler out of a car seat because the buckle wouldn’t unlatch. Fortunately, there was no accident or car fire at the time.
Graco says it will do as the government is ordering. Although the manufacturer has said it doesn’t know of any injuries or deaths caused by the faulty buckle, NHTSA noted to Graco in a letter earlier this year that the latter had been sued in a California car seat injury lawsuit over a 2-year-old girl’s wrongful death. (The case was settled, with the terms left confidential.)
Filed by the family of Leiana Ramirez, the plaintiffs argued that Graco designed the Nautilus car seat in a way that it used parts that made it hard to remove a child from in an emergency. The toddler was killed when the car caught fire after a car accident. The products defects case alleges that the buckle got stuck.
AmSafe Commercial Products, which is located in Indiana, is the company that made the car seat buckles now under scrutiny. NHTSA is also looking at four child safety seat models made by Evenflo. These car seats are similar in design to the Graco car seats that were recalled.
At The Gilbert Law Group®, our child products liability lawyers represent families with car seat lawsuits, stroller injury cases, nursing product claims, and other product defect cases involving faulty or malfunctioning consumer goods. Contact our car seat injury law firm today.