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Safety 1st Car Seat Lawsuit Filed After Child’s Death

August 1, 2014 — Dorel Juvenile Group, the world’s largest car seat manufacturer, has been hit with a lawsuit (PDF) from a woman who alleges that the “Safety 1st” car seat has defective buckle that caused her child’s death.

The incident occurred in Houston, Texas, in June 2012. The plaintiff, Ralandria Brown, filed the lawsuit on May 30, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The complaint lists a number of serious defects. Most importantly, the shoulder strap adjustor does not have a safety lock to prevent children from pulling up on the shoulder strap while sitting in the seat. If the strap is pulled, it can tighten on the child’s chest and prevent the child from breathing, causing strangulation or asphyxiation.

Before March 2007, Safety 1st car seats used a safer design. Plaintiffs accuse the manufacturer of failing to thoroughly test the car seat or conduct a thorough engineering analysis before selling the newer models.

Brown claims that the manufacturer knew or should have known that the car seat was defective, but failed to adequately warn about the risks. According to the complaint:

“The child seat in question was not reasonably fit for unintended, but clearly foreseeable, accidents and incidents. … Defendant knew or should have known of safer alternative designs which would have prevented the death of J.B., a minor child.”

The safety of child car seats has come under scrutiny following a recall of more than 6 million child, booster, and infant seats by Graco, Evenflo, and Baby Trend. The car seats were designed with a buckle that could become too sticky to open when contaminated with food or beverages. Federal safety officials demanded the recall because they were concerned that it would be impossible to remove a child from the car seat in an emergency.

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