The popular manufacturer of children’s products, phil&teds USA, has agreed to pay a $3.5 million government fine to settle charges that the company defied federal law and deliberately did not report a dangerous defect in one of its high chairs to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
According to a CBS News report, the company also allegedly “knowingly made material misrepresentations to agency staff during an investigation of the high chair.”
Defective High Chairs
The company recalled its “MeToo” brand of high chairs in 2011. By then, the company was already aware of 19 incidents where the seats dislodged as well as two instances in which babies’ fingers were amputated when only one side detached.
U.S. product safety law requires companies to promptly report to the government when one of its products poses a risk of serious injury or death.
In this case, the defective high chair, when clamped onto tables, could detach without warning. The high chairs were sold for $40 to $50 each between May 2009 and January 2011.
The CPSC did reduce the penalty significantly after the company pleaded with the agency saying that it would go out of business if it paid more than $200,000.
In agreeing to the settlement, the company did not admit to any wrongdoing.
How Can You Protect Your Children?
As we can see in this case, our system is flawed. phil&teds got away with many things here. Based on this news report, they failed to report the dangerous high chair defects in time. When the government investigated them, they apparently hid valuable information. Despite these major violations, they got away paying a fine and not having to admit wrongdoing.
How can we protect our precious children in such an environment where dangerous and defective products flood the marketplace? First and foremost, it is important for parents to familiarize themselves with CPSC’s website, which issues alerts on products that are defective and are being recalled.
As far as possible avoid buying baby furniture such as cribs, high chairs and toddler beds in yard sales. If you are buying second hand products or receive hand-me-downs, make sure you research them on CPSC’s website to ensure that they haven’t been recalled.
If a dangerous or defective product has injured your child, please contact an experienced product liability attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.