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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Baby Seat Manufacturer Isn’t to Blame for Injury

VICTORIA, Texas (CN) - The parents of an infant who fractured her skull when she tumbled out of a Bumbo Baby Seat had sufficient warning from the manufacturer, a federal judge ruled.

Erica and Kody Blythe filed a federal complaint in August 2012 against Bumbo International Trust fka Jonibach Management Trust for design and marketing defects. The Blythes also sued Target Corp., which sold the seat that they registered for and received as a baby shower gift, according to the complaint.

Hannah Blythe was 8 months old when she allegedly fell from the top of the kitchen table where her mother had placed her in the molded foam seat. The Blythes say that Hannah hit the floor and sustained an inverted skull fracture.

U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa noted Tuesday that he granted Bumbo and Target summary judgment only on the marketing defect claim. A jury that considered the remaining claims then ruled in favor of both companies.

"Illustrating a point sometimes lost on defense lawyers who too often view summary judgment as the 'be-all and end-all' of a case, the jury viewed the evidence in favor of the defendants and rejected plaintiffs' design defect and negligence claims," Costa wrote.

Following a recall in 2007, Bumbo revised the warning on its Bumbo Baby Seats, emphasizing that customers should never use the product on an elevated surface. The Blythes' seat was obtained after the recall, though the order notes that the parents failed to read any of the warnings included.

Costa found "there is no basis for a reasonable jury to decide that this unambiguous and conspicuous warning was insufficient."

The judge blasted the parents' attempt to bolster their marketing defect claim with an expert opinion.

"Indeed, the retention of an expert witness on the issue whether warnings on a basic consumer product are adequate - a determination one does not need a high school education, let alone 'specialized knowledge,' to make - is an example of the expertization of the law that is a major contributor to the cost, complexity, and delay that plague today's civil justice system," the order states. "Given that it is the court's obligation alone to decide whether judgment as a matter of law is warranted based on a record of undisputed facts, the court cannot cede that determination to an 'expert witness' on an issue that does not require any specialized knowledge."

The final judgment notes that the defendants had not moved for costs.

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