From recent news reports we learned that the federal government is investigating child seat maker Graco because of delays in the company’s recent child seat recall – one of the largest in U.S. history – due to a defect in the seats’ harness buckles. A review of Graco’s documents indicate the company was aware of complaints about the buckles as early as 2009.
David Friedman, Deputy Administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), states that by law “…a manufacturer has a maximum of five days to notify their agency once they reasonably know that an item of motor vehicle equipment, such as a car seat, contains a safety-related defect.” Failure to do so results in a fine of up to $35 million.
Early on the company resisted the recall, saying they determined the problem to be the result of “food, dried liquid drinks, vomit, formula, etc.,” which drips into the buckle, rendering it ineffective. Then, finally after a series of disputes with NHTSA, Graco recalled approximately 6.1 million child seats. Here, the “resistance” and the “series of disputes” are what seem hardest to accept, especially because these are child seats at issue, which are meant to protect our most vulnerable population.
GM & Takata: Timely Reporting?
Graco by no means stands alone. GM continues to live in the aftermath of its faulty ignition switch. It was found that the switch could move out of the “run” position, which in turn would result in a partial loss of electric power, which would then turn off the engine. To continue the domino effect, if the ignition switch isn’t in the “run” position, that raises the likelihood that the airbags won’t deploy in the event of a crash. This is further exacerbated by the fact that key rings carrying any extra weight besides the vehicle key pose a greater risk. The problems surrounding GM’s ignition switch, which many say date back 11 years, should have triggered an immediate recall. GM did not act, which led to more injuries and deaths.
Another example of corporate negligence comes from Takata, maker of car airbags. Four fatalities and 100+ injuries were the result of a dangerous defect, one for which the timeliness of reporting is also at issue. On November 7, 2014, the New York Times reported that Takata was aware of this problem years before any paperwork was filed with regulators. Now they’ve got unnamed employees disclosing the fact that Takata had suspicions as early as 2004, when they began to secretly test the airbags for defects. Its claim to the government was that it began testing for flaws in 2008.
Neither Graco, GM or Takata showed corporate responsibility in dealing with their product failures, which put consumers – including children – at great risk. One would like to think that these are just a few bad apples in a field of good. Unfortunately, our experience doesn’t bear this out. We stand committed to making sure manufacturers are held accountable for the products they create and to protecting the legal rights of those injured as a result of dangerous or defective products.
For 20 years, Slack & Davis has won complex cases that called for practiced professionals. For more insight about the fallout from delaying product recalls, contact the lawyers of Slack & Davis.