A class action seeking lawsuit over Graco booster seats alleges the manufacturer made unsubstantiated and deceptive safety claims, which may have put children at increased risk of injury or death in an auto accident.
Jennifer Murphy filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on July 21, indicating Graco Children’s Products Inc. and Newell Brands DTC, Inc. intentionally misrepresented the safety of the Graco TurboBooster Highback Car Seat and AFFIX Youth Booster Seat, as part of an effort to corner the market on child booster seats that placed their desire for profits above consumer safety.
According to the lawsuit, which seeks class action status to pursue damages for consumers, Graco knowingly misrepresented the safety of the booster seats by marketing the products safe for children as little as 30 pounds. However, federal regulatory and traffic safety experts warn premature booster seat use for children under 40 pounds is extremely risky and unsafe.
Murphy claims Graco tried to deceive the public and safety regulators by creating their own tests and standards, which are not disclosed to the public, then advertised the products had gone through “rigorous” side-impact testing to reduce the risk of serious injury or death in a crash.
Murphy claims these statements are misleading by suggesting there are uniform side impact testing standards. However, currently there are no federal or state standards for side impact testing of booster seats for manufacturers to assess a ranking of safety effectiveness. These misrepresentations are intentional to deceive parents and guardians into thinking the products have passed regulatory testing standards, according to the lawsuit.
Also according to the lawsuit, a recent side-impact test performed on a Graco TurboBooster by ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism organization, resulted in a child-sized dummy being hurled out of the shoulder belt, which would have conceivably caused significant injury to a child’s head, neck and spine.
ProPublica’s testing of the Graco TurboBooster effectiveness in side-impact crashes showed how inadequately children are protected by such vehicle crashes, experts say.
The recommended guidelines set forth by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2009 say children should not be faced forward in booster seats until they reach four years of age or 40 pounds, due to the risk of injuries. Recent 2018 NHTSA traffic data has indicated side impact crashes caused more than a quarter of all crash deaths in children under 15 years of age.
Similar to a Graco booster seat class action lawsuit filed in May, the lawsuit claims Graco breached the trust of consumers, failed to disclosure life-threatening safety information, and have deceptively advertised the products as “safe” to gain profit, leaving young children vulnerable to catastrophic injury or even death.
A series of Evenflo booster seat lawsuits have also been filed in recent months, raising similar allegations of deceptive and false marketing claims made to promote its Big Kid booster seat.
According to the lawsuits filed so far, Evenflo booster seats were advertised as safe for children as young as one-year-old or as small as 30 pounds. However, internal documents suggest the manufacturer’s own testing revealed the design had problems, yet consumers were not warned about the risk of serious injury or death children may face in a side-impact collisions, even though a “side impact tested” tag was placed on the booster seats themselves.