December 2, 2014 — The New York Times reports that safety officials are investigating whether Graco violated federal law by waiting five years to recall millions of car seats with defective buckles.
The problem is that the buckles can get progressively stickier over time due to inevitable contamination with food and beverages. Some parents have reported that the buckles were impossible to open, which increases a child’s risk of injury in an emergency.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says Graco knew about complaints of sticky buckles in 2009 and took steps to warn about the problem in 2012. Federal law requires manufacturers to report safety problems to the NHTSA within five business days, or face up to a $35 million fine.
Earlier this year, the NHTSA demanded that Graco recall millions of car seats with dangerous buckles. Graco fought the NHTSA, but eventually recalled 4.2 million child and booster seats. They did not agree to recall 1.9 million infant seats with the same buckles until July 2014, and only under pressure from federal safety officials.
Graco says the buckles have not caused any injuries or deaths. However, they agreed to an out-of-court settlement to resolve a lawsuit filed on behalf of Leiana Ramirez, an 11 month-old girl who died in a recalled car seat. The child’s mother and a bystander were unable to remove her from the recalled car seat when the vehicle caught on fire after an accident in 2011.
This is not the first time Graco has faced fines for delaying recalls of child products that pose safety hazards. In 2005, Graco paid a $4 million penalty to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) for failing to report safety hazards in a timely manner on more than 12 million products for children.
Do I have a Graco Car Seat Injury Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Graco car seat induced injury cases in all 50 states. If your child or somebody you know has been injured in an emergency due to a defective buckle, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Product Liability Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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