Graco Children’s Products recently recalled 11 of its 18 models of its car seats due to manufacturing defects causing the belt buckles to stick together. In one of the biggest such recalls ever, Graco has agreed to recall 3.7 million child car seats, as it officially contests a government request to recall another 1.8 million more.
The recalled seats were manufactured between 2009 and 2013. The belt can easily become stuck in these models, making it difficult, nearly impossible, to release a child. This can be life threatening in certain instances, such as fire or car accident or any situation where the child needs to be removed from the seat immediately.
In addition to the recall, Graco published a pamphlet listing ways parents can avoid the sticky belt buckles. The company suggests parents place the buckle in a cup of warm water and repeatedly press down on the release buckle to clean out the insides and keep the buckle functioning optimally.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked Graco to initiate a recall after a series of investigative reports dating back to 2012. These reports noted several problems with the car seats, including emergency events where the parents could not unbuckle the child from the car seat and were forced to take the child and seat out together, more than 70 pounds, from the car.
“NHTSA’s investigation will remain open pending its evaluation of the Graco recall and until the agency’s consideration of the review of the 7 remaining seat models is completed,” the department said.
To date, there have been more than 6,000 complaints related to the sticky buckles, some saying they had to cut their child out of the car seat. There are now two lawsuits pending against Graco over the defects; one of the cases reports that the child died in a car fire because she was trapped in the car seat. The eleven-month old girl was buckled into a Graco Nautilus car seat when the accident occurred, sending the car into flames. Her mother and several bystanders tried desperately to remove the child from her car seat, one even having to be hospitalized with severe arm injuries from trying to extract her. Her family subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Graco, alleging the company defectively designed the car seat. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount.
The car seats sold for between $99 and $400. The recalled models include these toddler convertible car seats: the Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size4Me 70, My Size 70, Head Wise 70 and Smart Seat. The harnessed booster seats that are part of the recall are the Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Elite and Argos.
According to the government, the seven models that Graco isn’t recalling despite being asked to do so by the NHTSA are all infant seats. Specically, they are: Snugride, Snugride 30, Snugride 32, Infant Safe Seat-Step 1, Snugride 35, Tuetonia 35 and Snugride Click Connect 40. These are not officially recalled.
Parents who purchased these car seats were trying to protect their children by keeping them secure in the car. How can these car seats have passed inspection when they have such a blatant defect?
Feel free to comment on this blog post. If you or someone you love was injured from a recalled product, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys for further information at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).