Voluntary Recall Doesn’t Shield ToyMakers
From SF Gate:
A judge has ruled that Mattel, Wal-Mart and others can still be sued for making and selling toys with high lead levels, even though the companies offered safer replacements after a recall.
It is commendable of these companies to voluntarily recall their products rather than be dragged into doing it through lawsuits, but then again, that's their legal obligation under the Consumer Product Safety Act. The whole point of voluntary recalls is to prevent future injuries and help inform the work of the federal agencies that regulate our products.
Lord knows they need all the help they can get.
Case in point: here's a related (Chicago Tribune) story about defective cribs and how a delayed recall led to unnecessary infant deaths from defects that had already been reported to the CPSC. From the article:
At first, Susan and Robert Cirigliano were thrilled when they learned of Delta Enterprise's October recall of 1.6 million cribs. Finally, they thought, the company was acknowledging the death of their 6-month-old son in a Delta baby bed.
Bobby Cirigliano died in 2004, trapped between the mattress and the side railing of his Delta crib after the railing popped off its track.
But when the Long Island couple went online for more details, they felt sick. A Delta spokesman had told reporters around the country that the company was "erring on the side of caution" after two infants died. Bobby wasn't mentioned.
"We felt like Delta spun it so that they were acting like heroes, like they had saved babies," said Susan Cirigliano, whose family is suing Delta for wrongful death.
In announcing the recall without mentioning Bobby, though, Delta and federal regulators gave an incomplete picture of the cribs' dangerous record.
Quickly determining why any consumer product fails is often difficult. But a Tribune investigation found that Bobby's death was a tragic marker on a long trail of warning signs that began at least a decade before this fall's recall. (Read more)
Stories like this one underscore why our civil justice system is so important. When the slow machinery of corporations and government agencies leads to unnecessary and untimely deaths, the families of victims should receive some sort of recourse, even though no amount could fully compensate the loss.
Hat tip to CJ&D for these stories.