Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - In 2009, Mattel's Fisher-Price launched the Rock 'n Play, a reclining baby rocker that vibrates and plays music. It quickly became one of their most popular baby products on the market, with about 4.7 million sales in the last decade.
Many parents put their trust in Fisher-Price and the Rock 'n Play. Its rocking motion and vibration soothed babies to sleep, enabling them to get much-needed sleep at night or to cook, clean, or do other work while their babies napped during the day.
Fisher-Price gave them good reason to think their babies were safe in their product. The company has been branding itself as a household name since 1930, and their marketing materials for the Rock 'n Play said things like, "baby can sleep at a comfy incline all night long." Rock 'n Play's box read that it is "great for overnight sleep."
For many sleep-deprived parents, the Rock 'n Play seemed a practical and even responsible way to allow their babies to fall asleep without the dangers of asphyxiation associated with co-sleeping. With what appeared to be endorsement from Fisher-Price, one of the top baby and toddler products companies in the world, parents put their children to bed in Rock 'n Plays and thought they were safe.
Yet 32 babies died after being placed in their Rock 'n Plays.
It was not as if there were no warnings. Health professionals warned for years that Rock 'n Play was unsafe.
In a 2015 letter to Fisher-Price, pediatrician Natasha Burgert wrote:
"As a pediatrician and parent consumer, I believe it is irresponsible to promote the Rock 'n Play Sleeper as a safe, overnight sleeping option for infants. By continuing to do so, you are putting babies at risk. ... I am asking you to consider re-marketing the Rock 'n Play Sleeper as a comfortable, portable infant seat; to be used for observed play, and as a temporary place for brief rest.
April 12, 2019, Fisher-Price announced a recall of Rock 'n Play Sleepers and make a statement saying "consumers should immediately stop using the product" after they were directly linked to the deaths of 32 babies and injuries to about 700 more children between 2011 and 2018.
"Infant fatalities have occurred in Rock 'n Play Sleepers, after the infants rolled from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained, or under other circumstances," a joint warning from Fisher-Price and the Consumer Product Safety Commission reads.
Consumer safety watchdogs say the recall was too little, too late. They say Fisher-Price knew the sleeper was contributing to suffocation deaths in children for years before recalling the product. Instead, they let the Consumer Product Safety Commission issue vague warnings that didn't get a lot of attention, and that didn't adequately warn parents that the sleepers could be dangerous.
Fisher-Price appears to have placed the blame squarely upon the shoulders of grieving parents. They said Rock 'n Play had "always met all applicable regulations and safety standards" in the United States and that it "included very specific and conspicuous product usage instructions and warnings that we urged parents and caregivers to read and follow carefully."
Fisher-Price also said it had shared safety information with the commission "from the moment it was introduced."
Every attorney at Onder Law Firm has used this product in raising their children. Just like yourself, our attorneys truly trusted the Fisher-Price name in what was thought to be an accurate representation, that the product was safe for naps and sleeping. Little did we know the truth.
Our hearts go out to the families who have lost a child while using this sleeper product. The Onder Law Firm currently represents several families across the country in these horrific deaths. It is important that we stick together and send a message to Fisher-Price so that no other parent has to endure the horror of discovering their child has fallen victim to this unsafe product. Please spread the word to your family and friends to stop using this product. Together, we will make a difference.
OnderLaw, LLC is a St. Louis personal injury law firm handling serious injury and death claims across the country. Its mission is the pursuit of justice, no matter how complex the case or strenuous the effort. The Onder Law Firm has represented clients throughout the United States in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation such as Pradaxa, Lexapro and Yasmin/Yaz, where the firm's attorneys held significant leadership roles in the litigation, as well as Actos, DePuy, Risperdal and others. The Onder Law Firm won $197 million in three talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits in St. Louis in 2016 and other law firms throughout the nation often seek its experience and expertise on complex litigation.