Graco Children’s Products has announced the recall of close to 3.8 million car seats due to faulty buckles that can make it difficult to free a child in the event of an emergency, reports The New York Times.
The company made the announcement on Tuesday, which immediately came under fire from federal regulators who argued the measure did not go far enough. Regulators have asked that an additional 1.8 million seats that use the same buckle be added to the recall, which already stands as the largest in five years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration went as far as to tell Graco that if those additional seats were not recalled, it would attempt to force action through legal measures.
The recalled seats include the 2009 to 2013 models of the Argos 70, Clozy Cline, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite, Comfort Sport, Smartseat, Classic Ride 50, Size 4 Me 70, My Ride 65, My Ride 70, and My Ride with Safety Surround.
Investigators started looking at the seats beginning in 2012, when concerned parents told regulators that they were forced to cut the straps off the seats in order to remove their child. One parent spent 45 minutes extracting their child, and only succeeded by loosening the seat straps and squeezing the girl out between them.
Graco informed regulators that the cause of the problem stemmed from contamination of the buckle by food and dried liquids. However, regulators did not buy that excuse, arguing that it was completely foreseeable that the buckles would get messy with a child in the seat.
Graco also released a statement on Tuesday that told consumers the buckles do not affect the performance of the car seat or its effectiveness, and reminded them that a car seat is the safest way to transport a child.
Graco has said that it does not know of any injuries connected to the defect, but a letter from the N.H.T.S.A. on Jan. 14 reminded them that they were a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles that stemmed from the death of a 2-year-old child in a car fire who was seated in a Graco Nautilus car seat.
The recalled buckles were made by AmSafe Commercial Products, who did not respond to a request for comment.
The additional 1.8 million car seats that safety regulators want recalled are rear-facing models designed for infants. Graco is refusing the recall, citing that even if the buckle jammed, children can be removed by detaching the seat from its base, which is connected to the vehicle.
Graco, a division of Newell Rubbermaid, is a leading manufacture of products for young children, and sells its products at popular retailers like Toys “R” Us, Target, and Walmart. It makes high chairs, swings, baby monitors, strollers, and other products in addition to car seats.
Safety regulators are also investigating similar complaints made about the Evenflo Company, out of Ohio. Evenflo uses similar buckles made by AmSafe.
We will keep you updated as this story unfolds.
The Parrish Law Firm product liability attorney works with northern Virginia residents and their family members who have been injured by defective products. Contact us today for a free case consultation, or call us at 703-906-4229.
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