PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A mother claims the SlingRider baby-carrier killed her infant son, and that its San Diego-based manufacturer, Infantino, knew the product had killed at least three other babies, but sold it through Wal-Mart and KMart anyway.
“Notwithstanding Infantino’s actual knowledge that the SlingRider product line was defective, dangerous and unsafe for its intended use, Infantino did nothing to eliminate the design and manufacturing defects, chose not to warn consumers about the defective and dangerous condition of the product, continued to sell the product, and failed and refused to immediately recall the product from retail and wholesale store inventories,” according to the complaint in the Court of Common Pleas.
Antoinette Medley says she bought two SlingRiders, from WalMart and KMart, in late October or early November 2008, and gave birth to twins on Dec. 30 that year.
She claims that Infantino knew by October 2006 “that use of the SlingRider created a substantial positional asphyxia and/or suffocation risk, arising from the design of the SlingRider.”
Testing by a pediatric nurse showed that “use of the SlingRider resulted in a suffocation threat when a baby’s nose and mouth become blocked when pressed against the sling’s fabric,” according to the complaint.
“In 2008, Consumer Reports, the magazine of Consumers Union, issued a report raising concerns about soft fabric slings, including the SlingRider, specifically identifying the suffocation risk posed by such slings, and linking the slings to at least seven infant deaths,” the complaint states.
“The SlingRider has been associated with at least four infant deaths, prompting the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (‘CPSC’) to issue a safety warning regarding the suffocation hazard posed by the SlingRider,” according to the complaint.
Medley says Infantino recalled more than 1 million slings on March 24 this year, “after years of ignoring complaints, concerns, data and information about the life-threatening hazards of the SlingRider,” and warned consumers “to ‘immediately stop using the slings’ because of a ‘risk of suffocation.'”
Medley claims that SlingRider was sold with a label stating that it “meets or exceeds ASTM F2236,” though that standard specifically excludes sling-type infant carriers.
ASTM International is a “voluntary standards development organization,” according to its website.
Medley says her baby Nelsir Scott suffocated in the sling while she shopped at a mall on Feb. 20, 2009. She says she did not notice any problem until she ran into “a friend who had not yet seen the twins.” When she showed the friend Nelsir, Medley says, “she noticed that he was unresponsive.” Emergency resuscitation failed, and the baby was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Medley seeks punitive damages from Infantino, WalMart, Sears and KMart, which owns Sears.
She is represented by Alan Feldman with Feldman, Shepherd, Wohlgelernter, Tanner, Weinstock & Dodig.