Retailers Recall Death Bassinets Because The Manufacturer Won't

The CPSC says that several retailers have agreed to recall some bassinets with a deadly flaw that has resulted in the strangulation deaths of two infants. The parent company that now owns the manufacturer of the bassinets is refusing to recall the product, claiming that they are not responsible for items that the old company, Simplicity, made before they bought its assets.

The Chicago Tribune, heady with the power of Illinois’ badass toy laws, stormed into some stores and bought two of the deadly bassinets.

In fact, a Tribune reporter on Thursday bought two bassinets at Baby Depot at Burlington Coat Factory on the West Side. Before the reporter left the store, an employee checked the model numbers to see whether those versions contained the deadly flaw. She told the reporter they did not.

But she was wrong. Both had the dangerous design.

Whoops. The Trib says that although the company that bought Simplicity (after it went bankrupt due to a previous crib recall) is denying responsibility for the bassinets, they say their bassinet had a shipping label with the new company’s name on it.

SFCA countered by saying Simplicity products are not its responsibility. “The products in question were manufactured and distributed by Simplicity Inc., a company that is no longer in business,” SFCA said in a written statement. “SFCA purchased Simplicity’s assets at auction after Simplicity Inc. went out of business and has no legal liability for any products distributed previously by Simplicity.”

But one of the deadly bassinets the Tribune purchased Thursday carried a shipping label with the name “SFCA Inc.” This seemed to contradict the written statement SFCA issued Thursday: “The CPSC product alert does not involve any product manufactured and distributed by SFCA Inc.”

Asked to explain this discrepancy, SFCA spokesman Paul Nathanson would not comment directly. Instead, he wrote in an e-mail: “As far as I know none of these model numbers were manufactured and distributed by SFCA.”

To read a full list of the model numbers affected by this recall and to see a list of retailers who are cooperating with the CPSC, click here.

We wondered why the CPSC is still unable to issue involuntary recalls, but were unable to find a straight answer anywhere. Consumer Reports says that the CPSC told them that they were using some of their special new powers to deal with the situtaion — namely the ability to skip a 30 day waiting period before issuing a consumer warning about a dangerous product.

“The CPSC is continuing to seek all options with SFCA to ensure there is recourse for the consumer,” said agency spokeswoman Julie Vallese. “However, this is a very complicated case and there is a question whether SFCA has legal liabilities for products manufactured by Simplicity.”

Consumer Reports suggests that when you try to return the product, that you print out the CPSC’s warning and bring it with you to the store. We think that’s a good idea.

900,000 bassinets targeted [Chicago Tribune]
Six Retailers Agree To Stop Sale and Recall Simplicity Bassinets Due To Strangulation Hazard [CPSC]
Two deaths trigger safety alert for Simplicity bassinet [Consumer Reports]