ï»¿A warning issued late last month regarding baby "sleep positioners" has sparked a class action lawsuit alleging that the product's manufacturers fraudulently marketed the products as safe.
On September 29, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned that the positioners pose a potential risk of suffocation, and urged parents to stop using the products immediately. The agencies noted that there are currently 12 known death linked to the products.
The lawsuit, filed last week in Illinois state court, names as defendants eight companies that produce sleep positioners. It is being brought as a putative class action on behalf of all Illinois consumers who bought a sleep positioner from one of the companies within the applicable statute of limitations period. The suit estimates that there are thousands of consumers who fit this description.
The suit says that the defendant companies "have falsely represented ... that their baby sleep positioners help prevent crib deaths when in fact [the manufacturers] do not possess (and have not possessed) competent scientific proof that these products are effective to prevent crib deaths."
While the suit notes that two of the defendants -- Kid Brands and Baby Delights -- have committed to stop selling the products, it alleges that none of the manufacturers "have ... taken all necessary actions to inform the public to stop using these dangerous products."
The suit notes the twisted irony of the situation, pointing out that the defendant companies "have or continue to market and sell these products for only one purpose: to prevent crib deaths," while, in reality, the products "pose a risk of crib death suffocation."
Class members, according to the suit, "have been or will be damaged in their purchases of these products in that they have been or will be deceived into purchasing a product that is not only not proven to be effective and safe but, in fact, is unsafe."
The suit alleges a single count -- consumer fraud. According to the complaint, "[b]y making unsupported ... representations about their products, [the defendant companies] committed or continue to commit consumer fraud and, among other things, engaged or continue to engage in false and deceptive conduct."
The eight companies targeted by the suit are Learning Curve Brands d/b/a The First Years Company; Summer Infant, Inc.; Kid Brands, Inc. d/b/a Sassy; Dex Products, Inc.; Kiwi Holdings, Inc. d/b/a Basic Comfort; Prince Lionheart, Inc.; Baby Delight, Inc.; and Munckin, Inc.
The announcement by the FDA and the CPSC noted that, in the past 13 years, there have been reports of 12 infant deaths related to the devices, most of which involved babies who rolled onto their stomach from their side. The agencies also received dozens of reports of babies who were found in hazardous positions after being placed on their back or side in the positioners.