Defective Children Products Comments Off
Graco has been fined up to $10 million for failing to warn consumers in a timely manner about millions of defective child car seats.
According to a CNN news report, federal regulators have slapped Graco with a $3 million fine.
The car seat manufacturer could face an additional $7 million unless they spend at least the same amount on taking new measures to improve child safety, U.S. Department of Transportation officials announced.
A Sticky Buckle Problem
The company was the subject of a probe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last year over suspicions that it delayed notifying regulators about a safety defect.
Graco issued a car seat recall last year over concerns that buckles were getting stuck making them difficult to open.
The recall affected car seats manufactured between July 2010 and May 2013.
Graco spokespersons said they did evaluate the government’s requirements in a timely manner and were cooperative with NHTSA’s investigation.
The Transportation Department said the buckle defect was potentially placing child occupants at risk in an emergency. But, so far, there have been no reports of injuries as a result of the defect.
However, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles over the death of a 2-year-old girl. She was killed in a car fire following a 2011 accident.
Her parents were unable to get her out of her Graco Nautilus seat. In that case, Graco settled out of court.
Putting Consumers at Risk
Federal officials have said that Graco was aware of complaints about the buckles as early as 2009 and that by 2012 the company was taking steps to address the safety issues such as telling owners how to keep the buckles clean and offering them lifetime warranties.
Federal safety regulations require automakers to disclose complaints about safety problems within five business days of when they become aware of the problem.
A failure to do so could result in a civil fine of up to $35 million.
It is unacceptable to delay a recall once a manufacturer becomes aware that there are safety issues.
As product defect attorneys who represent the rights of injured victims of defective products, we certainly hope that NHTSA stays on top of this investigation and ensures that Graco and any other manufacturers who fail to reveal product defects in a timely manner, are held accountable.