Car Seat Manufacturer to Face Florida Child Injury Lawsuit in 2017
Gregg Hollander | September 24, 2016 | Car Accidents
A Florida judge in Duval County has set a trial date for August next year against the makers of the Ohio-based Evenflo, a car seat manufacturer accused of improperly recommending car seats that are too big for some children. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 5-year-old girl who was severely and permanently injured in a 2014 crash in Jacksonville on I-295.
According to News4Jax, plaintiffs in this product liability lawsuit allege the manufacturer was negligent on several fronts. Among those: Designing, testing, developing, making and marketing a product that fails to provide sufficient protection to child occupants in the event of a collision. Specifically, the booster seat the manufacturer produced was marketed to children under 40 pounds. However, the seat didn’t incorporate a five-point harness system, which would strap the children in over the shoulders, around their waist and between their legs. Instead, this was simply an over the shoulder and lap belt, which plaintiffs assert is not adequate protection for a child under 40 pounds.
Plaintiffs allege the actions of this manufacturer run counter to the recommendations of both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Had the child been in a seat with a five-point harness, plaintiffs say, she would have been spared her terrible injuries. Evenflo rejects plaintiffs assertions, with a spokeswoman saying that while she could not comment on the particulars of the case, the booster seat in question – Evenflo Big Kid booster – has been sold for more than 10 years and reportedly has a solid safety rating that is compliant with government safety standards in the U.S. and Canada.
However, the lawsuit doesn’t come at a great time for the company, which just recently issued a recall on some 30,000 combination booster seats because there is the potential for the booster seat to loosen the harness without the adult’s knowledge. The 3-in-1 Evolve seats were the target of government research, which concluded that the harness could come loose and if that happened, it would increase the risk of child injury in a car accident.
Evenflo has said there aren’t any reports of actual injury as a result of this issue, but the Miamisburg, Ohio company said there have been nearly 30 complaints of children being able to loosen the harness. Starting Sept. 26, 2016, the company will have available a remedy kit that will include a replacement harness adjustment button. This fix will be free to consumers. The car seats in question were manufactured before February of this year.
Although the Evenflo trial over the Big Kid booster (which has not been recalled) is slated for August, it’s possible it might be moved back to December, according to the News4Jax reporter. The news team also spoke to a physician at a local Florida medical center, who said ensuring five-point strapping for small children is “critical” to protecting the young person’s bones and brain. Seats that are not appropriately tight are not going to help a child in a crash.
Word of the latest trial date came amid Child Passenger Safety Week in Florida, which involves raising awareness among motorists to properly restrain children according to their seize, height, age and weight. The NHTSA offers recommendations for maximizing child car seat safety.
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Lawsuit against car seat manufacturer set for trial next year, Sept. 20, 2016, By Scott Johnson, News4Ja