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Parents sue crib retailer for one-year-old son's wrongful death

A one-year-old boy from North Attleboro, Massachusetts, was asphyxiated in 2008 by a defective baby crib that has been recalled. Although the particular crib -- the Simplicity Ellis Deluxe 4-in-1 Convertible Sleep System -- had been recalled before the boy's parents purchased it, they were never warned of the danger, according to their wrongful death lawsuit.

"In the full history of Simplicity cribs and bassinets, there were more than a dozen deaths, including the tragic case in North Attleboro," says Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman Scott Wolfson. "Simplicity cribs are one of the deadliest products that we've dealt with in recent years."

More than 2 million baby cribs manufactured by Simplicity have been recalled since 2007, according to the CPSC, and the CPSC urges parents to avoid or stop using them.

"We believe that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of these cribs could still be out there," Wolfson said. "There are many cribs that Simplicity made and sold that do not have a remedy available, and we urgently ask parents to throw them away."

Some retailers offer replacements for certain models of the defective baby cribs, and parents can find more information about replacements on the CPSC's website.

Simplicity cribs' frames can bend or detach, leading to suffocation risk

According to the CPSC, full-size Simplicity cribs with tubular metal mattress-support frames pose a serious risk of serious injuries and fatal accidents. The frames can bend or detach, which can cause part of the mattress to collapse. This creates a space an infant or toddler can roll into while they sleep, and the baby can become wedged or entrapped in the space or fall out of the crib altogether.

Should the baby become entrapped in the space created by the collapsed mattress, the child can be strangled or can suffocate, which is what happened to the one-year-old from Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts boy's death was a key factor in the CPSC's decision to expand the recall of Simplicity baby cribs in April 2010.

The boy's parents filed their wrongful death lawsuit against the online retailer who sold them the crib, Omaha-based Hayneedle, Inc. They have also named the manufacturer in the lawsuit for product liability, but both Simplicity and its successor company SFCA, Inc., are no longer in business.

The lawsuit claims that the retailer exhibited gross negligence by failing to warn purchasers of the crib's "dangerous and defective characteristics, and of the safe and proper method of assembling, using and maintaining (it)."

Source: Boston Herald, "'Deadliest' crib seller sued," Donna Goodison, January 7, 2011

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