What is the worst kind of defective product? A good candidate is a baby-killer. And that is what the Infanto Baby Slings “SlingRider” and “Wendy Bellissimo” (sold by several large retailiers such as Target, Babies R Us and Burlington Coat) turned out to be.
Today the federal agency responsible for consumer safety, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), recalled more than 1 million Infanto baby slings after they apparently caused at least three infant deaths BY SUFFOCATION. The slings are especially dangerous for infants under 4 months old. Babies can suffocate in them in two ways: First, the baby’s nose and mouth can get pressed against the sling’s soft fabric, thereby blocking its ability to breathe (or cry out in distress). Second, if the baby is placed in the curved position (c-like), the baby’s head can flop forward, chin-to-chest, reducing the ability of the infant to breathe (or cry out in distress). Small infants’ necks are not strong enough to pick their head up out of this position.
This story is personally distressful to me because of my own blissful experience with baby slings. Baby slings became popular about a dozen years ago, when my boys were still infants. They are great because they allow on-the-go parents (like me and my wife) to bond closely with their babies as they go about their business. I remember a trip we took to New Orleans where I had my one-year old cuddled up against my chest as we strolled all over the French Quarter. He was so peaceful in that sling, with his little head peeking out over the lip of it, checking out the Bourbon Street scene!
I don’t want to even try to imagine the horror of a parent who, feeling her warm, peaceful baby snuggled up against her chest, suddenly starts to realize that there is something TOO peaceful about the baby . . . .
Nothing can replace a lost child. It is among the most devastating of human experiences. We at Michaels & Smolak have had the dreadful duty of bringing child wrongful death cases to trial for grieving parents. Sadly, New York wrongful death law allows for NO COMPENSATION to parents for the DEATH of a baby. Incredible, but true. Read my prior blogs about this most horrible law by clicking here and here. But a parent whose baby suffocates because of a defective product has a right to sue the manufacturer, and others involved in the products distribution, for the PAIN AND SUFFERING the infant must have endured while suffocating to death.
A manufacturer of a defective product is strictly (automatically) liable for the harm its dangerous product causes, even if the manufacturer had no reason to know that the product was dangerous. What matters is only this: Was the product UNREASONABLY DANGEROUS? If it was, then the manufacturer is liable, regardless of how careful the manufacturer was in designing and manufacturing the product.
I have hated writing this blog, but I feel it is my duty both to warn my fellow Central New York and Syracuse area parents of this dangerous product, and inform them of their rights, should, God forbid, tragedy strike their family.