There are many normal childhood activities that parents accept may pose some risk of injury to their children. But using a potty-training seat is certainly not one of them.
According to news reports, a class action lawsuit was recently filed against retail giant Target and the makers of the weePOD Basix potty-training seat after at least 15 toddler boys sustained serious lacerations when their genitals got stuck on sharp plastic on the underside of the seat’s pee shield.
In one instance, parents claim their three-year-old boy’s penis had to be “glued back together” by emergency room doctors because stitches weren’t appropriate for his genitals. Other parents reported injuries to their boys including rips, lacerations and tears at the base of the penis.
In the lawsuit the families contend that the manufacturer of the potty seat, Prince Lionheart Inc., refused to recall the seat or warn customers about its danger despite having knowledge of incidents and complaints dating back to 2012. The lawsuit also claims that Target, despite receiving reports of the hazard, did not recall the toilet-training seat or issue warnings, but instead continued to sell it.
Prince Lionheart finally changed the texture of the pee shield in August 2017 and updated its warning to consumers to specifically mention the possibility of genital injury. But, according to news reports, the plaintiffs say there are still approximately 650,000 defective potty seats in circulation.
Alan Feldman, a product liability attorney at Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP, said that when children’s products are used in an intended and foreseeable way, manufacturers can — and must — be held legally accountable when children are seriously injured or killed.
According to Feldman, “while manufacturers of all products have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe, it’s particularly critical for manufacturers of children’s products to conduct a hazard analysis and design their products so that the most vulnerable segment of society is protected from needless harm. Unfortunately, we have seen time and time again that product manufacturers do not always live up to their responsibilities and then are reluctant to voluntarily recall their products after injuries occur.”
What Types of Children’s Products Can Be Dangerous?
Other children’s products that may cause serious injury or death if defective include:
Feldman said that when a child is seriously injured or killed by a defective product, the grieving parents frequently blame themselves and don’t stop to think that the product may be defective and that it is the manufacturer who is at fault. As a result, incidents often go unreported.
Even when events are reported, parents are often unaware that other parents have reported similar injuries to the product’s manufacturer and that the manufacturer failed to take appropriate action to warn its customers and to remove the product from store shelves and people’s homes, Feldman said.
When Should I Contact a Product Liability Attorney If My Child Is Injured?
Feldman recommends contacting a product liability attorney as soon as possible following a child’s injury, as every state has its own strict deadlines as to when a lawsuit must be filed. He said that, too often, parents — tormented by grief and misplaced self-blame — have contacted him many years after a defective product seriously injures, or even kills, their child, and at that point it is too late to take legal action.
Often, the civil justice system provides some comfort to grieving parents as it shines a spotlight on dangerous products and helps ensure that they are removed from the market so that they can no longer threaten other children, Feldman said.
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