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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
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October 29, 2008

MADIGAN LAUNCHES THREE-PRONGED ATTACK AGAINST DEADLY SLEEP ENVIRONMENTS FOR INFANTS

Files Unprecedented Lawsuit Against Crib Distributor; Demands Refund-Only Policy from CPSC; Issues Valuable Resource Guide for Parents

Chicago — After months of calling on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to take more aggressive action to hold manufacturers and distributors accountable for defective, and often dangerous, products, Attorney General Lisa Madigan today launched a three-pronged approach to better protect Illinois consumers: filing a lawsuit against SFCA, Inc., the distributor of the Simplicity bassinets that have caused two infant deaths, calling on the CPSC to implement a refund-only recall policy, and releasing a new, comprehensive guide outlining recalled cribs, bassinets and play yards to help parents identify whether they have these dangerous products in their homes.

"To protect Illinois families from products that we know are dangerous, we must begin by holding distributors accountable. Our investigation revealed that SFCA continued to distribute recalled products that posed serious risks to children," Madigan said. "I will not allow this company to wash its hands of responsibility to Illinois families."

Madigan's lawsuit alleges that SFCA, which acquired the Simplicity brand and its inventory in March 2008, continued to supply design-flawed bassinets to Illinois retailers, despite knowing the bassinet design had caused at least one death that led to a design change by Simplicity. According to the complaint, SFCA refused to participate in the recall, claiming it wasn't responsible for the design flaws.

Madigan's lawsuit asks the court to prohibit SFCA from selling and distributing the unsafe bassinets in Illinois and to require SFCA to:

  • Hire an independent consultant to develop a product safety protocol and review all of SFCA's product designs to ensure compliance with safety standards;
  • Recall all Simplicity bassinets that use the recalled design;
  • Provide refunds to retailers who issued refunds or store credits to consumers who returned Simplicity bassinets; and
  • Notify the public of CPSC recalls by advertising in newspapers throughout Illinois.

Madigan's lawsuit highlights the limitations of the CPSC's recall policy, which allows manufacturers to issue cheap repair kits as remedies instead of offering consumers replacement products, refunds or store credits. The flawed policy allows defective products to remain on the market. For instance, when the CPSC issued an earlier recall of more than 1 million Simplicity cribs, less than 50,000 repair kits had been ordered five months after the recall, leaving hundreds of thousands of dangerous cribs in homes, day care center and secondhand outlets. As a result, Madigan today called on the CPSC to change its policy to require manufacturers and distributors to offer refunds as the sole remedy when babies die as a result of a defective crib or bassinet.

"When a child has died in a defective crib, bassinet or play yard, the burden must remain on the manufacturers and distributors to remove them from the market and help to make families whole," Madigan said. "A cheap repair kit fails to do either."

Madigan also criticized the CPSC's current recall procedure, which she said creates an unfair burden on consumers to interpret the cumbersome and confusing language issued with its notices.

"For busy families, it is virtually impossible to keep track of these recalls," Madigan said. "The information from manufacturers and the CPSC is often unnecessarily complicated and confusing, and too often the recall notices contain long lists of model numbers and lack model names or retailer information that would help families in easily identifying whether their crib or bassinet is covered by the recall."

Madigan offered a simple solution by issuing a Rest Assured Guide, a comprehensive resource to help parents identify dangerous cribs, bassinets and play yards that may still be for sale online and in their communities despite a product recall. The 22-page guide provides helpful product information for nursery furniture that has been recalled in the last 13 months.

"Kids In Danger applauds the work of Attorney General Madigan in protecting Illinois children," said Nancy A. Cowles, Executive Director of Kids In Danger. "The actions announced today, along with this resource on safe sleep environments, are crucial steps in keeping children safe. We will work with our allies in consumer organizations to encourage CPSC to take stronger actions to get dangerous cribs out of homes and off store shelves."

Madigan urged parents to check their crib, bassinet or play yard, and to use this guide when shopping online at sites like Craigslist and eBay or at community resale shops and garage sales.

Consumers can download the free guide by visiting www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov or request a hard copy via mail by calling Madigan's Product Recall Hotline at
1-888-414-7678.

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