According to allegations raised in a recently filed class action lawsuit, Graco booster seats were falsely advertised as safe for young children, even though the manufacturer knew they were not.
Emilio Pensado, Jr. filed the complaint (PDF) in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on May 1, claiming that consumers were deceived parents into believing Graco TurboBooster and Affix highback booster seats were safe for children under 40 pounds, indicating that the company made unfounded claims that the seats reduce the risk of serious injury or death from side-impact accidents.
Graco deceptively marketed the TurboBooster and Affix booster seats by making up their own standards and tests, which are not published or shared with the public, and then advertised that the products had gone through “rigorous” side-impact testing to reduce the risk of serious injury or death in a crash, according to the lawsuit.
Pensado alleges that claims made by Graco were unsubstantiated and deceptive, since there is no federal or state standards for side-testing of booster seats. The allegations also state the products do not pass any test that establishes the safety of the seats for children in a side-impact collision.
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.
Graco failed to respond to ProPublica after they shared the video of the test, which was performed at the Medical College of Wisconsin test lab, which also perform tests for federal researchers.
The lawsuit claims Graco deceptively mislabels the TurboBooster and Affix booster seats as being safe for children as light as 30 pounds and as young as three-years old, which directly conflicts with federal regulator recommendations.
The recommended guidelines set forth by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009 detail 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.
Graco issued a “serious injury or death warning” to Canadian consumers, warning them not to use the TurboBooster and Affix booster seats for children under 40 pounds. However, Graco never gave this warning to its U.S. customers, and continued to market the booster seat use for children as light as 30 pounds or three years of age.
Pensado claims Graco has 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.
Similarly, a growing number of product liability lawsuits and class action claims have also been filed against Evenflo Company, alleging the Big Kid booster seats were promoted as being safer than they actually were, placing children at a serious risk of injury.