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CPSC Sues Leachco After Manufacturer Refuses to Recall ‘Podster’ Infant Loungers Following Two Infant Deaths

February 10, 2022

UPDATE:

On February 9, 2022, the Consumer Product Safety Commission sued Leachco, the manufacturer of the Podster, Podster Plush, Bummzie and Podster Playtime infant loungers, after the company refused to voluntarily recall these products following two reported infant deaths. The suit asks that Leachco be ordered to notify every person to whom the loungers were sold or delivered that the product poses a suffocation hazard and to offer them a full refund. 

“Infants are the most vulnerable members of our society. The Commission will not turn a blind eye on products that put them at unnecessary risk, and can lead to parents’ worst nightmare,” said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. “Filing complaints like this one is a last resort when a manufacturer fails to respond to the type of safety concerns raised in this case, yet in the interest of protecting consumers we were left with no other options.”   

CPSC WARNS PARENTS TO STOP USING ‘PODSTER’ INFANT LOUNGERS AFTER TWO BABIES DIE FROM SUFFOCATION

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning parents to immediately stop using four models of “Podster” infant loungers manufactured by Leachco, Inc., citing two infant deaths from suffocation in this pillow-like product. It is noteworthy that Leachco, which describes itself on its website as a company that “focuses on the safety and well-being of children,” has refused to issue a voluntary recall, and has instead taken aim at the CPSC for not better educating consumers about the safe use of infant loungers.

The CPSC’s January 20, 2022 warning includes the Podster, Podster Plush, Bummzie and Podster Playtime infant loungers. The warning states that two infants who were placed in separate instances on a Podster lounger suffocated when “due to a change in position, their noses and mouths were obstructed by the Podster or another object.” The infants, 17-days old and four-months old, died in January 2018 and December 2015.

Approximately 180,000 Podsters have been sold, according to the CPSC. They measure between 71 and 75 inches in circumference and have dimensions of approximately 23.75 x 21.5 x 8 inches. They have a padded insert and a removable cover. The covers come in a variety of prints and contain an elastic center.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be put to sleep on their backs, on a separate, flat and firm sleep surface without any bumpers, loose bedding or stuffed toys. The problem with infant loungers is that when babies are put to sleep in them or left unattended, they can assume positions where their face presses against the soft padding and their airflow becomes blocked. Leachco and other baby product manufacturers have attempted bypass the AAP’s safe sleep recommendations by hiding behind ineffective warning labels that loungers are for supervised awake time and are not intended for infant sleep. However, a simple search of consumer reviews on Amazon reveals that Leachco should be well aware that its warning is clearly inadequate and is not getting through to parents and caregivers. One parent gushed, “My older kiddo slept in this till she was at least 18 months old.” Another described the Podster as “A safe place for baby to snooze or even sleep for extended periods (before they begin rolling or sitting up).” Another said her baby “relaxes in it and naps in it.”

READ
3.3 Million Boppy Baby Loungers Recalled After 8 Babies Die

The CPSC warning concerning the Podsters comes less than four months after The Boppy Company recalled 3.3 million infant loungers after eight infants reportedly suffocated in them. Since the recall was announced many other Boppy related deaths have come to light. The Feldman Shepherd firm has been retained in four Boppy deaths, none of which were included in the original eight deaths reported by the CPSC. Also, in October 2020, the CPSC warned parents about the risks of using pillow-like products, including infant loungers and nursing pillows, for infant sleep. The warning did not identify any specific products by name.

Although the CPSC has asked Leachco to recall the Podsters, the company has refused to do so. Contrary to popular belief, the CPSC is powerless to force a recall and must engage in protracted litigation or administrative proceedings if a company does not voluntarily agree to withdraw its product.

In response to the CPSC’s warning about the Podster, Leachco issued an all-too-predictable “blame the victim” statement on its website, maintaining that the Podster comes with “clear warnings” that it is not intended for infant sleep. Astoundingly, Leachco attacks the CPSC for not better educating consumers about the dangers of infant loungers. “The CPSC is wrongly telling consumers to stop using the Podster altogether instead of explaining that no lounger should be used in a crib or bed and no lounger is safe for unsupervised sleep,” the website statement says.

This attack, a clear attempt to deflect blame for a dangerous product, completely ignores the CPSC’s warning to parents in October 2020 not to use pillow-like products, including loungers and nursing pillows for infant sleep. It also ignores the third sentence in the CPSC’s warning about the Podster, which reads: “For decades, CPSC has emphasized that the best place for a baby to sleep is on a firm, flat surface in a crib, bassinet or play yard.”

What Should I Do If My Child Has Been Injured by a Podster Infant Lounger?

Alan M. Feldman, a co-founding partner and product liability attorney at Feldman Shepherd, recommends contacting a product liability attorney as soon as possible if your child has been injured by an infant lounger.

Feldman said that all products should be safe for their intended as well as expected use. “It is well-known that babies spend much of their time sleeping. It is completely intolerable that Leachco would put a giant, unsafe, pillow-like product that can asphyxiate an infant into the marketplace, and then refuse to voluntarily recall it when infants die. Leachco’s ineffective warning label that Podsters are not meant for infant sleep is a flimsy attempt to excuse the inexcusable and should not shield the company from legal liability,” said Feldman.

Feldman’s team at Feldman Shepherd, which includes partners Daniel J. Mann and Edward S. Goldis, have secured substantial recoveries on behalf of infants and young children who have been seriously injured or killed by children’s products, including baby slings, unstable furniture and magnetic toys. The team presently represents in excess of 10 families who lost infants when they asphyxiated while using inclined sleepers.

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