Girardi | Keese

CPSC urging parents to take action after hope chest tragedy

It may surprise most people to learn that one of the largest recalls of children's products ever undertaken by the Consumer Product Safety Commission did not involve toys, cribs, highchairs, pacifiers or even clothing. Rather it involved a piece of furniture that had the ability to trap and suffocate unsuspecting children looking for a good hiding place.

In 1996, the CPSC together with the Lane Furniture Company announced a recall of 12 million cedar hope chests manufactured by the company from 1912 to 1987. Here, the problem was that the hope chests were equipped with latching systems that would automatically lock when the lids were closed and which could not be opened from the inside, creating a suffocation hazard. Shockingly, six children had already died at the time of the 1996 recall.

Flash forward to 2000, where the massive recall was renewed yet again after reports surfaced that another child had suffocated inside one of the hope chests, while two others had narrowly escaped death.

While news reports on these hope chests have been virtually non-existent for well over a decade, that all changed a few weeks ago when two Massachusetts siblings, ages 7 and 8, died after accidently trapping themselves inside one of the recalled chests.

Here, the hope chest in question was manufactured back in 1939 and had been purchased by the family secondhand over a decade ago.

According to both the CPSC and safety groups, this recent tragedy serves to underscore that these dangerous hope chests are still out there and that news of the recall -- which calls upon consumers to get a free lock repair kit from the furniture company or simply remove the entire latching system -- is either being ignored or still not reaching consumers.

"With all that's going on in the world, it's unlikely you're going to hear about it," said an official with Kids in Danger. "Or they hear about it and forgot to follow up and take action, they don't understand the risk of it or it's not economically feasible to parents to comply with recalls for which there isn't a fix."

Compounding the problem is the fact that consumers are unlikely to part with these hope chests, many of which are either inherited or purchased secondhand, because they are well made and make a nice home decoration. This is different from potentially defective children's products like toys, cribs, clothes, etc., which parents generally dispose of at some point regardless of whether they know of any relevant recall.

In the meantime, CPSC officials are urging parents to check for these hope chests in their homes and make sure they take remedial measures if they are indeed present.

"We do not want another child to die in a Lane cedar chest," said a CPSC spokesperson. "We need parents, we need grandparents to know there was a recall years ago, and to check their basement, check their attic, check their house, and if they have them, it's not too late to take advantage of the recall."

It's important to remember that you can seek justice if a dangerous or defective children's product has caused your family immeasurable harm. Consider speaking with an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights and your options.

Source: NBC News, "Child deaths are tragic reminder that products pose risk long after recall," Lisa Flam, Jan. 16, 2014; NBC News, "Two Mass. children die after getting stuck in hope chest," Bob Salsberg, Jan. 13, 2014

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

IN THE NEWS

The Soto Verdict

Girardi | Keese attorneys have won a $2.3M verdict for a Long Beach resident run over by a Parks & Rec truck. Read more here.

The Madero Verdict

Attorney Christopher T. Aumais persuaded a San Bernardino County jury to deliver an  exceptionally high verdict in an area known for low jury awards.

A Champion of Justice

Partner Amy Fisch Solomon was a Champion of Justice in 2015, proving that success in law isn't just about the size of your verdict or settlement.

Own a VW Diesel?

Read about VW's emissions scandal and 
our class action against the automaker.

Referrals

Learn About Our Referral Network Read More

Our Attorneys

Meet our award-winning team Read More

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

The true measure of a lawyer isn’t the awards, but what the awards say about the lawyer: dedication and commitment to the client.

Super Lawyers Distinguished AV | Lexis Nexis | Martindale-Hubbell | Peer Review Rated For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability American Association For Justice Consumer Attorneys Association Of Los Angeles Consumer Attorneys California Supreme Court Icon 7 Icon Best Lawyers | Best Law Firms 2014 | U.S. News American Board of Trial Advocates Law Dragon America's Top 100 Attorneys | Lifetime Achievement