Crocs Off the Hook for Child’s Escalator Scare

     (CN) – Crocs had no duty to warn consumers about the allegedly higher chance that its resin sandals will snag in escalators, a federal judge ruled.
     In July 2010, 8-year-old N.K. boarded an escalator at a subway station in Boston several steps ahead of her parents.
     Although posted safety signs read, “No children unattended,” N.K.’s mom Nancy Geshke testified that she did not see the signs, and felt her daughter was old enough to ride the escalator without supervision.
     As the escalator descended, N.K.’s right Crocs shoe became caught between the moving step and the escalator’s static side skirt. Geshke said she saw N.K.’s foot “contorted, turned, and standing up” at a 90-degree angle.
     A fellow passenger testified that N.K.’s “right shoe got ingested and pulled her toe, her big toe into the side of the escalator.”
     The parents tried to hit the escalator’s emergency stop button, but it had no immediate effect.
     Ultimately, the adults managed to yank N.K.’s foot out of the escalator before it entered the teeth at the bottom.
     Geshke filed a federal complaint against Crocs on her daughter’s behalf, arguing that Crocs shoes contained a design defect and the company failed to warn purchasers about the danger the shoes posed to children on escalators.
     She argued that Crocs itself designed a safer version of the shoe in Japan, called the Kids Blaze, in response to “irrefutable testing and findings of the Japanese government” that “Crocs were far more susceptible to escalator entrapments than any other type of footwear tested.”
     U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns granted summary judgment to Crocs after finding that, “whether Geshke failed to read the posted warnings, or simply disregarded them, Crocs persuasively argues that an earlier redundant warning would have done nothing to avert N.K.’s accident.”
     The judge also found that the Japanese report on which Geshke relied is inadmissible as evidence.
     “Specifically, there is no identification of the make or model of the shoes involved in the NITE [Japan’s National Institute of Technology and Evaluation] entrapment replications (NITE tested seven undifferentiated types of resin sandal); the model of the escalator specific to each entrapment (NITE conducted its tests on four different Japanese makes of escalator); the sandals’ contact location; the tensile and compression loads; the ‘hardness’ or ‘thickness’ of the sandals; the dynamic friction coefficient; and/or the angle of the entrapment,” Stearns wrote.
     “Without expert testimony reliably relating the contents of the NITE report and its conclusions to the circumstances of N.K.’s accident, the report is doubly inadmissible,” he added.
     In addition, “while it is undisputed that Crocs designed the Kids Blaze model to mollify METI’s [Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry] concerns, Geshke offers no evidence that the Kids Blaze design was in fact safer for a child to wear while riding an escalator or that the Japanese government ever required any permanent change in the design of Crocs shoes sold in Japan,” Stearns wrote.

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