$8 Million Settlement in Infant Sling Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The mother of a Pennsylvania child who died in a shoulder sling infant carrier has settled her lawsuit against the manufacturer of the infant carrier for $8 million.

Antoinette Medley, the mother of Nelsir Scott and Infantino LLC, the maker of products for infants and babies, agreed to the settlement last month.

The lawsuit filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas involved the SlingRider, an infant carrier manufactured by Infantino.  It was reported that this product had been responsible for the deaths of three other babies. It was alleged in the lawsuit that the SlingRider was defectively designed and caused the suffocation of the baby.

On February 20, 2009, Ms. Medley carried her twin sons, 7-and-one-half-week-old Tamir and Nelsir, in two separate SlingRiders (purchased at K-Mart and Wal-Mart stores, respectively) traveling by bus to an appointment, and then by trolley to the Gallery in Philadelphia’s Center City afterward, according to the plaintiff’s pretrial statement.

After running into a friend at the Gallery, Ms. Medley noticed several drops of blood on Nelsir’s bib and “immediately went to a restroom to check on him,” plaintiff’s court papers state.

When she realized she could not awaken Nelsir, Ms. Medley ran out of the restroom screaming for help, and entered a McDonald’s where she performed CPR until Emergency Medical Technicians arrived, according to a pretrial statement.

Nelsir was pronounced dead after being transported to Thomas Jefferson Hospital. Ms. Medley was interviewed by a Philadelphia Police Department detective and a social worker.

The baby’s body and the SlingRider were transported to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, where an autopsy was performed, prompting Assistant Medical Examiner Gary Collins to alert other coroners of his suspicion that the SlingRider might have been related to Nelsir’s death.

It was further alleged that in 2010, after recalling the product, Infantino admitted that the SlingRider presented a “risk of suffocation” when used with infants younger than four months. The plaintiff also alleged that Infantino had not tested the SlingRider for safety before marketing and selling it and that Infantino falsely claimed compliance with industry standards in order to promote SlingRider sales.

“This claim was intended to suggest to consumers that the SlingRider was safe and thoroughly tested, and that it met applicable safety standards in the United States and Europe. In fact, Infantino knew this claim was false,” the plaintiff’s pretrial statement said.

When consumers posted complaints on various retailers’ websites, it was alleged that Infantino chose to ignore the “literally hundreds of negative reviews” detailing the product’s capacity to position an infant in a C-shape, a chin-to-chest position that limited the ability to breathe.

According to plaintiff’s pretrial statement, Infantino failed to issue a recall until a fourth SlingRider-related death was reported, which was after the infant in this case died.

Infantino contended that the SlingRider was designed to be worn by one person with only one sling and that the product instructions warned to that effect.  Infantino argued that Medley testified that she had been carrying the twins in two SlingRiders, but medical personnel who were on the scene testified that Ms. Medley had been carrying the twins in a single SlingRider.

The settlement consisted of an $8 million lump sum payment, with allocations to be made between survival and wrongful death claims.

The fact that hundreds of consumers complained about the SlingRider and nothing was done until four baby’s lives were lost proves negligence on the part of the manufacturer.  Do you think this is a fair settlement? Feel free to comment on this blog post.

For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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