Infant Bassinet Deaths Lead CPSC to Re-Announce Simplicity Recalls

The deaths of two more infants in the last year has prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to re-announce a recall of convertible “close-sleeper/bedside sleeper” bassinets made by Simplicity Inc., a company that was driven out of business due to repeated recalls of defective and dangerous child furniture.

The CPSC issued the re-announcement of the bassinet recall on Thursday, about a year after the original recall. The defective bassinets have been associated with at least four infant deaths, two of which occurred since the recall was issued.

In September 2008, a two-month old girl in Demorest, Georgia died of suffocation when she rolled her face into an adjustable fabric flap held in place by Velcro fasteners, and in January of this year, a six-month old girl was killed after she became trapped in space between the bars of the bassinet when the same flap was not secured in place. The CPSC also received two reports of infants who became trapped but were rescued without injury.

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The convertible close-sleeper bassinets, also known as 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 bassinets, have metal bars that are covered by an adjustable flap held in place by Velcro strips. The Velcro can be undone to convert the bassinet into a close-sleeper. The CPSC says that if the straps are not secured properly, or if the flap is removed from the bars, a child can get caught between a metal bar and a mattress support, become trapped, and suffocate or strangle.

The recall affects all of the Simplicity 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 “close-sleeper/bedside sleeper” bassinets manufactured before May 18, 2008. A full list of affected model numbers and manufacturer date codes are available in the CPSC bassinet recall re-announcement. Some of the bassinets have Winnie the Pooh or Graco logos.

At least one infant wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Walt Disney Co. as a result of a child who died in a Winnie the Pooh bassinet made by Simplicity. The lawsuit was filed in December 2008 by the parents of Kennedy Brotherton, a six-month old who died a week before the original recall. Walt Disney officials have said the company is not liable since it only licensed the Winnie the Pooh image to the company for its products.

Simplicity Inc. went out of business in 2008 after having more than one million cribs recalled since 2006 due to defective and dangerous designs. Many major retailers who sold Simplicity products, such as Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Target, J.C. Penny and Kmart have agreed to accept returns.

Even after Simplicity went out of business, the CPSC has continued to discover problems with Simplicity products. In August 2008, about 900,000 bassinets were recalled. In September 2008, more than 600,000 Simplicity drop side cribs were recalled. In January, about 200,000 Fisher-Price Rainforest Portable Play Yards made by Simplicity were recalled as well.

Simplicity’s assets were purchased by SFCA, Inc., of Reading, Pa. The CPSC reports that SFCA was uncooperative in working with the commission to conduct recalls and refused to take returned products from customers. In the most recent re-announcement, the CPSC reports that SFCA “no longer appears to be conducting day to day operations” and has stopped answering phone calls and returning e-mails.

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