Did The Chicago Tribune Embarrass The CPSC Into Recalling A Million Cribs?

When it comes to consumer reporting about hazardous children’s products, the Chicago Tribune might be the most badass newspaper around. After shaming Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s by finding (illegal) recalled toys on their shelves, the Tribune went after Simplicity cribs and a massive recall followed:

Photographs taken of Liam Johns’ crib by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office clearly show where it came apart.

The drop rail had detached from its plastic track, creating a gap through which the 9-month-old boy slipped feet-first. Instead of falling to the floor, Liam got his head stuck between the rail and the mattress. Trapped in a hanging position, the boy asphyxiated.

Liam’s April 2005 death prompted an investigation by a federal watchdog agency and a family lawsuit against the crib’s manufacturer, Simplicity Inc.

But the company and the Consumer Product Safety Commission didn’t warn parents across the country about the potentially fatal flaw in Simplicity cribs–not after Liam suffocated, not after more complaints about the crib rails and not after two more infants died.

Once the Tribune began questioning the company and the agency this month, a massive recall of Simplicity cribs followed.

The CPSC is denying that the reporter’s questioning had anything to do with its decision to recall the cribs, but after 55 complaints, seven infants trapped and three deaths over several years… why did the CPSC suddenly decide to recall the cribs? According to Chicago Tribune reporter Maurice Possley, the CPSC didn’t even pick up the crib from the storage locker where it was being held by the familiy’s lawyer until the Tribune informed them of their intention to publish an investigative report. From ABC News:

“The CPSC didn’t even pick up the crib until after I told them about it,” said Tribune reporter Maurice Possley. “A kid died in April of ’05, and a kid dies in November of 2006, and you’re the parents of a kid who dies in February of ’07, and you know that something could have been done about it? Boy, I’d be really, really angry.”

Missteps delayed recall of deadly cribs [Chicago Tribune]
Crib Recall Came Years After Infant Deaths [ABC News]
Did an Investigative Reporter Awaken the CPSC? [The Pump Handle]