PITTSBURGH (CN) - A 1-year-old girl is permanently disabled with anoxic brain injury from a Target toy-storage trunk that has killed or injured the brains of at least 45 other children, her parents say in Allegheny
County Court. The family claims that Target, with $60 billion in annual sales, sold them the trunk knowing that dozens of children had been trapped and killed or injured by its lid.
Camryn Surman, 1½, was hurt when her head and neck were trapped under the lid, her parents say. They say Target's trunks lack required safety lid-support mechanisms.
The lid on the wicker hemp trunk is connected to the frame by leather straps that provide no resistance to sudden collapse, the Surmans say. They say the trunk is particularly dangerous to children because it is the only trunk in the product line that does not have 2-inch legs, forcing a child to bend over to retrieve an item from it.
The parents say Target knew the trunk is dangerous.
Citing industry sources and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Surmans say that Target knew that "at least forty-five (45) children had died, and others had suffered serious brain damage, as a result of the lids of said trunks falling on the heads or necks of children, and either trapping their full body or their head and neck inside, thereby leading to suffocation or anoxic brain injury."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission cited several causes of these accidents, according to the complaint: children used the trunks to pull themselves up and the lid fell on them, children tried to open the lid, which fell on their neck; and children reached into the chest and the lid dropped on them, "trapping the neck between the lid and the edge of the storage chest."
The Surmans say the Consumer Product Safety Commission "recommended, and industry safety standards mandate, that any products designed or marketed as storage containers for toys ... must be sold with a lid-support mechanism that prevents the sudden collapse of the lid."
The CPSC recommends that if a product is not equipped with a lid-support mechanism, it should contain a conspicuous and permanent label placed on the inside of its lid: "WARNING - THIS CHEST IS NOT INTENDED OR SUITABLE FOR A TOY CHEST" or "RISK OF CHILD SUFFOCATION."
But the Surmans say the "metal framed wicker trunks are sold without specific instructions, warnings or limitations as to their intended or permissible use." In fact, "As of July 2009, Target, via Target.com, directly and unequivocally stated that the Denso Rectangular Trunk was 'perfect as storage for toys,'" according to the complaint.
The Surmans seek punitive damages for negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty and tortious infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by Martin Lazzaro and John Gismondi.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.