5 Infant Deaths Prompt CPSC to Sue Manufacturers of Nap Nanny & Chill

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff members have filed an administrative complaint against Baby Matters, LLC, of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, the manufacturer of Nap Nanny and Nap Nanny Chill infant recliners. The complaint alleges that the Nap Nanny Generation One and Two, and Chill model infant recliners contain defects in the design, warnings and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury and death to infants. The Commission voted 3-0 to approve the filing of the complaint, which seeks an order requiring that the firm notify the public of the defect and offer consumers a refund for the full price.

CPSC is aware of four infants who died in Nap Nanny Generation Two recliners and a fifth death involved the Chill model.

To date, CPSC has received a total of more than 70 additional incident reports of children nearly falling out of the recliners. The staff alleges that the products create a substantial risk of injury to the public.

CPSC staff filed the administrative complaint against Baby Matters, LLC, after discussions with the company and its representatives failed to result in an adequate voluntary recall plan that would address the hazard posed by consumer use of the product in a crib or without the harness straps being securely fastened.

The agency says the maker of the Nap Nanny declined to address the hazard CPSC says exists when the product is used in a crib without the harness straps securely fastened.

“Parents are placing them inside of cribs and there have been tragic situations where they tipped over,” says CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson.

Risks include infants falling out of the recliner and becoming wedged between the recliner and the crib mattress. In other cases, the product’s attached harness failed to keep the babies from falling out if the product tips, Wolfson said.

A statement from Kemm on the company’s website says, “We do not believe the complaint has merit and stand behind the safety of our product when used as instructed…We at Nap Nanny went to great lengths to make the safest product possible. Nap Nanny has helped thousands of babies and their tired parents for the last four years. No infant using the Nap Nanny properly has ever suffered an injury requiring medical attention. The Nap Nanny was designed and constructed for use only on the floor with the harness secured.”

In July 2010, CPSC and Baby Matters, LLC issued a joint recall news release to announce an $80 coupon to Generation One owners toward the purchase of a newer model and improved instructions and warnings to consumers who owned the Generation Two model of Nap Nanny recliners.

At the time of the July 2010 recall, CPSC was aware of one death that had occurred in a Nap Nanny recliner and 22 reports of infants hanging or falling out over the side of the Nap Nanny even though most of the infants had been placed in the harness. Subsequently, despite the improvements to the warnings and instructions, the complaint alleges that additional deaths using Nap Nanny recliners have been reported, including one in a Chill model.

The Nap Nanny is a portable infant recliner designed for sleeping, resting and playing. The recliner includes a shaped foam base with an inclined indentation for the baby to sit and a fitted fabric cover with a three-point harness. Five thousand Nap Nanny Generation One and 50,000 Generation Two models were sold between 2009 and early 2012 and have been discontinued. One hundred thousand Chill models have been sold since January 2011. All were priced at approximately $130.

Baby Matters went out of business last month, which owner and founder Leslie Gudel Kemm says is a result of its ongoing battle with the CPSC.  However, regulators say there are reports that the Philadelphia-based company is closing, but say that the company’s website is live.

Gene Grabowski, executive vice president of issues management firm Levick, which handles about 60 recalls each year, said he thinks Baby Matters’ public statements helped contribute to the company’s demise.

In March, Kemm, the Baby Matters founder, told USA Today that she had done everything she could think of to assure the product’s safety. There are no federal standards for infant recliners, so Kemm said she tried unsuccessfully to get the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association to create a voluntary standard. She said they refused because infant recliners are not a “mass produced category.”

“We did what we could,” Kemm said, including testing with live babies and making necessary product changes. “We saw this as our only choice, given the dead ends we had hit elsewhere.”

“The public statements seemed a little dismissive of consumer complaints, especially when you’re talking about five deaths,” said Grabowki. “Those kinds of statements whenever you’re talking about injury or death alienate parents, and raise concerns about how caring the company is…You must first show that you understand a parent’s point of view.”

Feel free to contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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