On February 20, 2010, plaintiff Christina B. and other family members visited a children’s entertainment center in New York. Christina transported her one-month old son in a SlingRider, a fabric, over-the -shoulder infant carrier manufactured by Infantino. A short time after arriving at the center, Christina lifted her son from the SlingRider and immediately noticed he was unresponsive. Despite intensive lifesaving efforts, Christina’s infant son could not be resuscitated.
We brought a product liability claim against Infantino in New Jersey, the home of an Infantino executive responsible for the design of the SlingRider. Utilizing evidence developed in more than 30 depositions, plaintiff demonstrated that the design of the SlingRider presented a risk of suffocation or asphyxia, which plaintiff contended was the cause of Christina’s son’s death. Other evidence showed that Infantino (1) had actual knowledge of serious design flaws of the product, (2) ignored consumer complaints about respiratory difficulties encountered by infants carried in the SlingRider, and (3) had submitted a patent application in which it acknowledged that the SlingRider’s design could cause “possibly serious obstruction of the infant’s breathing passageways.”
Additionally, compelling admissions by the President of Infantino confirmed the company’s repeated refusal to honor the request of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for a recall of the product, lending support not only to plaintiff’s defective design claims but also potentially to a finding of reckless conduct on the part of Infantino. Plaintiff’s claims for the wrongful death of Christina’s month-old son and her own claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress settled before trial for the total sum of $7.25 million.
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