A Philadelphia woman has reached an $8 million settlement with the makers of the Infantino baby sling, which was recalled due to design defects that allegedly resulted in the death of her two month old child.
The agreement was reached between Anthoinette Medley and Infantino, LLC to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit Medley brought in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in June 2010, following the February 2009 death of Nelsir, a seven-and-a-half-week-old child.
According to allegations raised in the complaint, the young boy suffocated against his mother’s body while in a baby sling designed and manufactured by Infantino. The settlement was reached shortly before trial was scheduled to begin on Monday.
Nelsir’s death and the deaths of at least two other infants, including a six-day-old infant in Salem, Oregon, and a three-month-old in Cincinnati, Ohio, led to an Infantino SlingRider recall in March 2010.
More than a million of the slings were affected by the recall. During the same month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned against the use of all baby slings involving a similar design, noting that seven children had suffocated in the slings over the previous 11 years.
Medley was unaware that her child had died until she noticed drops of blood on his bib. A medical examiner later pointed to the sling’s design as a likely cause of the child’s suffocation, but never identified the SlingRider as the cause of death.
The baby sling lawsuit claimed that Infantino failed to issue a recall in a timely fashion, waiting until after a number of infant deaths had occurred before removing the product from the market. The complaint accused the company of knowing the slings were dangerous at the time she purchased them. The second sling was for Nasir’s twin brother, who was unharmed after being transported in the sling the same day Nasir died.
The company has denied liability, despite the settlement. The lawsuit originally include K-Mart and Wal-Mart as defendants as well, because they sold the SlingRider, but they were dismissed from the lawsuit.
Consumer Reports placed the baby slings on its list of products parents should not buy for their babies in April 2009, saying that the bag-like shape of the slings can lead to the infant’s smothering without the mother being aware of it. At that time, there were only four suffocation deaths known to be connected to the use of the slings.
In 2007, CPSC announced an Infantino SlingRider baby sling recall due to the risk of the straps breaking. The recall was issued after the company received eight reports of children falling out of the slings. One of the infants suffered a fractured skull.