A hearing held before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform has revealed that there were 97 infant deaths in the recalled Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play reclined sleepers – nearly double the number previously reported by the company.
According to a news release issued by the Committee, that number is also seven times the number of infant deaths in the Rock ‘n Play that that company reported to the government in 2018 when it was fighting a recall.
After resisting for a year, the company recalled all 4.7 million of the inclined sleepers in April 2019, but only vaguely admitted to “more than 30 child deaths” when infants rolled over and suffocated. After a two-year investigation, lawmakers are now accusing Fisher-Price of lying to consumers and regulators just to protect their profits.
Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney said during the hearing that “corporate greed and weak federal oversight” were responsible for the death of nearly 100 babies. During the hearing, she specifically talked about just how profitable it was for Fisher-Price and its parent company, Mattel to keep selling those infant sleepers despite knowing that they were proving fatal for infants.
She said documents from 2009 to 2018 confirm that Mattel received $200 million from selling these dangerous products. The company, she said, knew about these child deaths in 2012, but Mattel had a “financial incentive” to hide that information. “It is shameful that Fisher-Price endangered lives simply to help its bottom line,” Maloney said.
During the hearing, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz and Chuck Scothon, general manager of Fisher-Price, made the stunning admission in disclosing the actual number of infant deaths they knew about. Kreiz acknowledged that the company did no further study to ensure the product design was safe, did not make any changes to the product, and did not warn the public. Chairwoman Maloney also demanded complete records from Fisher-Price on every single death in the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, as well as other Fisher-Price baby sleepers, rockers, and gliders, whether recalled or still for sale.
Product Liability Issues
As recently as last month, CPSC and Fisher-Price recalled Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother and the 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider after reports of four babies – ranging from 11 weeks to 4 months old – died between April 2019 and February 2020 while using the soother. The infants were placed on their backs unrestrained in the soother and were later found on their stomachs. The children had suffocated to death.
It is unconscionable that Fisher-Price failed to warn consumers and recall these products in a timely manner. But it is even worse that the company lied to regulators and hid information simply to protect its profits from selling these products. The company should be held accountable for putting profits over the well-being of its consumers, in this case, young, vulnerable children. If you or a loved one has been affected by these dangerous and defective products, please contact an experienced product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.