Convenience and safety often clash. Quick example: In the old days, before the era of car seats and booster seats, getting the kids into the car was so easy, so convenient. You just threw them in and off you went. Early on, there weren’t even seatbelts. Only problem was that kids were getting mangled, crushed and killed in car accidents. Enter car seats and booster seats. What a pain in the a–! All that strapping in, tying down. Inconvenient, isn’t it? But safe.
Now let’s take cribs. Several decades ago some smart engineers invented a great convenience: Drop-side cribs (see photograph featured here). No more leaning over the side of the crib to awkwardly place baby to bed. It was a hit!
Only problem was babies were dying. The drop-side sometimes created a V-shaped gap between the mattress and side rail where babies got caught, suffocated and died. At least 32 infants have died this way since 2000.
When you think of all those babies, thousands of them, who have successfully used drop-side cribs over the last decade, 32 deaths do not seem like a lot. Unless it’s your baby. Then it seems like way too many. Then, after you have buried your baby, and have cried rivers of tears, you may say to yourself, between spasms of guilt and grief, “hey, the guys who made this crib knew that other babies had died in them, but they sold it to me anyway. They made money. And they killed my baby”. You might long for justice. Then you might stop in to see someone like me, a New York defective product lawyer. And then together we might file a New York products liability lawsuit against the company who put the baby-killing product on the market.
Many of the companies who made these cribs had recalled them over the year. They knew they had a problem. And despite repeated attempts, they were unable to design or manufacture a fool-proof drop-side crib. So last Wednesday the Consumer Product Safety Commission finally voted unanimously to ban the manufacture, sale and resale of the cribs.
The ban makes sense. Convenience is not worth the lives of 30 babies a decade.