If you have jumped on the Peloton bandwagon, you are not alone. But many parents are exercising with more caution this week after learning about a child’s tragic death on a Peloton treadmill. Consumers are being urged to keep children away from the fitness equipment, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigates.
Peloton Interactive, Inc. became a household name during the 2019 holiday season, with a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign that poked fun at a husband and his “Peloton wife.” Then the pandemic began and Peloton became the fast rising star of the fitness industry. Many rushed to set up a high-end stationary bike or treadmill right at home, then logged into the fun digital app.
Peloton’s CEO announced the child’s death on a Tread+ last week in a letter, revealing the company was also aware of a small handful of other Tread+ accidents involving children. While he cited no injuries in these cases, NBC later reported that another child, a 3-year-old boy, had suffered serious injuries after being found trapped under a Peloton Tread+.
According to SaferProducts.gov, the child’s father had found the boy trapped under a Peloton Tread+ in early February. Initially, he was not breathing and had no pulse. The boy suffered a significant brain injury, along with a neck injury and petechiae on his face, which can occur when one’s blood flow is blocked. Peloton learned about the incident from the CPSC and said the company’s heart went out to the family.
If you or your child has been injured by an unsafe product, you should receive immediate medical care and report your injury promptly to help warn others. You do not have to make a report on your own. Report the incident with guidance from an experienced product liability lawyer at Breakstone, White & Gluck, who can advise you of your legal rights.
This is a timely investigation and conversation. Many families have purchased fitness equipment to use from the convenience of their homes as they juggle family and work responsibilities under COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, treadmill sales rose over 120 percent between March and October 2020, according to the Washington Post. Stationary bike sales nearly tripled.
Treadmills, though a convenient way to exercise from your home and office, are associated with many fitness equipment injuries. Across the country, emergency rooms treated an estimated 22,500 treadmill-related injuries during 2019, according to the CPSC. Children under 8 suffered about 2,000 injuries. There were 17 fatal injuries on treadmills between 2018 and 2020, including a 5-year-old girl.
Using Treadmills Safely in Your Home
According to Consumer Reports, children ages 1 to 6 suffer the most treadmill injuries of any age. Older siblings can also be injured when they just want to try the equipment and interactive features that look like video games.
Consider that young children are often just learning how to ride their first bike and developing their coordination skills. They are not strong enough to use a heavy, mechanical piece of equipment, not even for just a moment under an adult’s supervision.
Treadmill companies have a duty to warn consumers about the potential harm to children and how to prevent injuries to children. Manufacturers also have to watch how they showcase fitness equipment in ads and commercials. If a consumer sees a bike set up in a living room or family space, this may leave the impression that this is safe near children and families.
You can take steps to protect your children by securing fitness equipment in a separate room, away from your children and pets. Just as important, remove the safety key when you are done using the treadmill and fold it up if possible.
Mechanical Defects and Other Issues with Treadmills
When you buy fitness equipment, you may wonder whether you will enjoy using it or if it will be worth the investment. No one expects to be injured or see their child injured.
Yet there are many defective and unsafe products sold each year. This includes defective equipment which should have never been sold due to defective design or manufacturing error. Injuries can also happen when a manufacturer fails to warn the consumer about unsafe use. Manufacturers have a duty to promptly report when their products cause injury or wrongful death.
Many treadmill injuries can be traced back to poor manufacturing. Consumers have no warning about mechanical problems, such as spinning belts and erratic motors, until they use the machines. As a result, a consumer can lose their stop or fall, first hitting a moving treadmill and suffering head injuries or skin lacerations.
Improper set up can also contribute to injuries. Treadmills should come with instructions on where to safely place the equipment in your home or office. When a user misses a step, they are much more likely to get caught in the tread mat or hit a wall if they do not have adequate space. Read the instructions carefully as treadmills can come in different weights and sizes at times. As a guide, consider the ASTM International treadmill recommendations are to leave at least 6 1/2 feet of free space behind the treadmill. There should be about 1 ½ feet on each side. But your model may have different specifications.
Incomplete or incorrect labeling is another source for fitness equipment injuries. Without proper warning, the consumer cannot make the best decision about whether the product is safe for purchase and use in their home environment.
In addition to larger fitness equipment, be aware of small accessory equipment. Weights, air-filled exercise balls and yoga straps all look simple to use. But these fitness products can be poorly made with cheap materials, making them unsafe for both children and adults.
In one recent case, one of our attorneys led an investigation and negotiations which resulted in a $1.15 million product liability settlement for our client.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Defective Product Attorneys
Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston is committed to providing our clients with aggressive and thorough representation. If you or someone in your family has been injured by an unsafe product, contact our product liability lawyers. We serve clients across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Waltham, Framingham, the North and South Shores, Cape Cod, Fall River and Worcester. For a free consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
A few weeks ago, W.A.T.C.H. released its nominees for the “10 Worst Toys of 2020.” For parents and families, this list offers insights on how to avoid buying dangerous toys this holiday season. It also reveals some inappropriate advertising tactics.
When you see a toy online or in a store, you cannot just assume it is safe for your child. While there is a federal toy safety standard and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) oversees recalls of unsafe toys, there are still many cases of dangerous and defective toys reaching families. According to W.A.T.C.H., one child is treated in a U.S. emergency room every three minutes for a toy-related injury. Between 2016 and 2018, 43 children died in toy-related incidents across the U.S. In 2018, there were an estimated 226,100 toy-related injuries.
From this year’s W.A.T.C.H. “10 Worst Toys” report:
Calico Critters Nursery Friends. W.A.T.C.H. calls this set a potential danger because the small animal figures are flocked with clothing that can become loose. The set also includes small parts, such as a pacifier. Children can potentially choke on either the clothes or pacifier.
The Calico Critters set is being sold by Amazon, and also online and in stores by Walmart and Kohl’s. In this case, the age recommendation is 3+ and it carries a small parts – choking hazard warning. But the toy contains small play figures meant for young children, including a pacifer; it is inherently dangerous because of the small parts, the clothing and children may attempt to mimic the dolls and suck the pacifier.
A similar Calico Critters playset was also mentioned in the U.S. PIRG, “Trouble in Toyland” report this year. The set may be to blame for two children under age 3 choking in New Mexico and Utah; the child in New Mexico died (Source: 2020 Trouble in Toyland report which cited a court filing and a local news report).
Missile Launcher. According to W.A.T.C.H., this toy can cause potential eye or facial injuries. The launcher is intended for children age 5 and older. The packaging shows a child stretching the launcher out near his face, which supports the view that this toy is unsafe. This product is being sold by Home Goods.
Marvel Avengers Vibranium Power FX Claw. Kmart, Amazon and Walmart are selling this Hasbro toy. It is marked for children age 5+. W.A.T.C.H. warns children can use the claw to swing or hit people or animals. If a child makes contact with someone else, they could be seriously injured. The manufacturer even states this right out on the warning label.
Read Age Appropriate Labels and Warnings
Manufacturers must have toys intended for children 12 and younger tested by a third-party to ensure they comply with the federal toy safety standard. Toys which have small parts must also have age appropriate warning labels. We encourage consumers to protect themselves by becoming experienced at reading these labels – and be critical. The W.A.T.C.H. report highlights just how inadequate and in poor taste toy warnings can be. If you purchase a toy online, read the description on the screen before you buy, then double check the box when it actually arrives.
Free Legal Consultation
Boston Product Liability Attorneys – Boston Toy Safety Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing clients injured in personal injury and product liability cases across Massachusetts. Read about our experience representing clients injured in product liability cases in Boston. For a free legal consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
You can also read more of our Project KidSafe holiday toy safety series.
When a product is recalled, you may expect it will be removed from store shelves or online marketplaces. This is not always a safe assumption. In this year’s Trouble in Toyland report, U.S. PIRG reports several toys which were recalled this year were still being sold afterward on popular websites. Last year, a Wall Street Journal investigation found Amazon was selling thousands of unsafe or banned products.
These are upsetting headlines. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls toys when they pose a safety hazard to children. Recalls are typically only called after a report or several reports of injuries or near injuries.
Once a toy is recalled, consider it unsafe to use. Our Boston product liability lawyers share our safety tips for steering clear of unsafe toys this holiday season:
Look Up Past Toy Recalls
Visit the CPSC website and review product recalls for 2020. According to U.S. PIRG, 10 products were recalled in the 12 months between the release of its 2019 and 2020 report.
You can visit this website after you have selected a toy and before you make a purchase. Or it may be helpful to start your holiday shopping there. Search for “toy recalls” or look through all the product recalls. Note that this website does not include automobile recalls. You can find these on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.
Beware of Amazon, Ebay and Marketplace Websites
Some retailers only offer their own products online. Others – such as Amazon and Ebay – are marketplaces where different vendors sell products and toys. These products may be new or they may be used.
Both the sellers and websites have a responsibility to make sure they are not selling recalled products.
In August 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was selling more than 4,000 items which federal agencies had declared unsafe or banned. Others had misleading labeling. At least 2,000 listings were for unsafe toys and medications.
The story showed the challenges Amazon has regulating its own marketplace. If you shop on Amazon or EBay, look for information about the seller. Is a company the seller or an individual? If you have never heard of the seller, you may not want to make a purchase.
Watch for Small Parts
When buying online, one potential danger is buying a toy which contains small parts. To protect your children, always read age recommendations and look for warning labels.
Toys which are designed for children under age 3 should be labeled if they contain small parts. Toys for children age 3 to 6 must also be labeled if they contain small parts. Read our blog on identifying small parts and toy safety warnings.
Beware of Purchasing Toys on Social Media Sites
You may have heard of Facebook Marketplace or other social media sites where you can sell used toys and products. Avoid buying used toys for children here during the holidays. We also suggest you avoid buying toys from these sites during other seasons, but especially during the holidays when many of us just wait for online sales to pop up.
There is no quality control. In most cases, the product is no longer in the packaging so you can’t read the safety warnings and age recommendations.
If you buy a used product this way, you really have no way of knowing when it was purchased. You may not have a product number or product instructions.
Children’s products, such as cribs, car seats and strollers, may carry the greatest risks. These products are frequently recalled and many model types look similar. While it is illegal to sell recalled products, it happens.
One frightening story came after Fisher Price and Kids II issued their crib recalls in early 2019. Despite this, 1 in 10 daycares was still using a Fisher Price Rock n’ Play sleeper in August 2019. In Nov. 2019, Consumer Reports reported found hundreds of the recalled sleepers available online, on sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. In addition, Consumer Reports warned other products – including Ikea dressers recalled in 2016 were still being sold.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Toy Safety Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston specializes in the representation of clients injured by unsafe or defective toys and products. We are writing about toy safety this holiday season to help parents and families make safe shopping decisions. Read our past toy safety blogs.
In Massachusetts, we are washing our hands and using hand sanitizers as much as we can. We all want to do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But now, it’s time to check your supply of sanitizer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging the public to steer clear of nine brands because they contain methanol, a toxic substance.
Methanol is often used in industrial settings, where high concentrations of methanol vapor can lead to poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also called wood alcohol and is highly flammable.
Methanol can also be harmful when you handle it or absorb it through your skin, according to the FDA. The greater risk, though, is children or adolescents who may drink or ingest hand sanitizer. Certain adults may also be at risk or may have consumed the clear liquid accidentally. Parents and caregivers should respond immediately if they suspect a methanol hand sanitizer poisoning.
The hand sanitizers identified by the FDA show particularly high levels of methanol. Testing found one product contacted 81 percent methanol and no ethanol.
The FDA had asked Eskbiochem SA de CV of Mexico to remove the hand sanitizers from the market last week. When there was no response, the FDA issued its public warning on Friday (June 19, 2020).
The FDA advises consumers to avoid these hand sanitizers:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)
The agency advised consumers to carefully inspect sanitizers in their home before use and immediately dispose of these in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Consumers should not flush sanitizer or pour it down the drain. Read the FDA notice.
Symptoms of Methanol Poisoning
Methanol exposure can lead to methanol poisoning and severe symptoms, starting with nausea, vomiting, headache and blurred vision. In the worst cases, those exposed can suffer permanent blindness, seizures, comas or permanent damage to the nervous system. Methanol poisoning can also result in death.
How Safe is Your Hand Sanitizer?
Hand sanitizer was in short supply for months. But you can now probably find your own bottle. If you use hand sanitizer, make a point to carry your own. Carefully read the label and regularly check the FDA website for recalls.
Hand sanitizer is a clear gel. It all looks the same, but each brand has a different alcohol content. For instance, your small pocket sanitizer probably has less alcohol than a nursing home or hospital, which has to meet greater fire safety regulations.
Our point is it would be hard to tell if you were being offered sanitizer with a high level of methanol or any dangerous substance. It’s better to control your own supply. Read about the FDA’s work to ensure the safety of hand sanitizers.
Wash Your Hands Safely
The FDA reminds consumers to regularly wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are unavailable, the CDC recommends an alcohol-based hand sanitizer which contains at least 60 percent ethanol. Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about hand sanitizer safety.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck has extensive experience representing those injured by defective products, including those which contain toxic chemical substances.
Manufacturers of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers and detergents have a responsibility to produce safe products and conduct thorough testing before distribution. End users, including restaurants, industrial workplaces and labs, also have a responsibility to follow safety guidelines when using chemical products. Mishandling chemicals can lead to chemical exposure, fires or serving clients unsafe food and beverages.
If you have been injured by a chemical exposure or explosion, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
If you take Zantac or ranitidine, it is time to change your medication. On April 1st, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked manufacturers to immediately withdraw all medication from the market. This is due to concerns it contains a chemical which could cause cancer.
You will no longer be able to purchase the medication over the counter or refill existing prescriptions, according to the FDA. The agency has recommended alternative medications which you can discuss with your physician. While this announcement may come as a surprise during the COVID 19 outbreak, many had anticipated this move after the FDA’s initial warning last September and the subsequent recall of Zantac, the popular brand name medication, in October. Many other manufacturers have also issued voluntary recalls over the past six months.
The FDA announced testing showed ranitidine contained the contaminant N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, which is a probable human carcinogen. The agency said the decision was made on the “best available science.” NDMA is a known environmental containment which is already present in our surroundings. It is found in water, meat, dairy and vegetables, but at low levels is “not be expected to lead to an increase in the risk of cancer,” according to the FDA.
When testing ranitidine, the FDA said it did not observe unacceptable levels in many drug samples. But ultimately, the agency decided the drug should not be available to consumers unless the quality can be assured.
Specifically, testing found the NDMA levels in some products increased in rising temperatures, which may be involved in distribution and a patient’s handling of the drug. And as the ranitidine product aged, so did NDMA levels.
This new FDA announcement will impact many people and present challenges. Patients can usually remember their daily medications. But Zantac is typically a short-term medication which is available in many ways, over-the-counter, by prescription or in a hospital. Because of this, many people may recall suffering from heartburn or a stomach ulcer, but may not remember which medication they took. Another challenge is the medication was sold under many brand names.
If you used Zantac or ranitidine, then experienced cancer or other illness or symptoms, you may want to learn more to guide you in your future medical care. You may also have the right to seek financial compensation to pay for your medical bills and other losses. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston product liability lawyers are now reviewing cases for patients who may be affected by Zantac and ranitidine injuries. For a free no-obligation legal consultation, call (800) 379-1244 or (617) 723-7676.
Here are a few points to remember:
Look for product names of ranitidine medications
Zantac was widely used. According to USA Today, before recall, there were 15 million prescriptions of Zantac annually. The manufacturer was Sanofi.
However, ranitidine was also sold under other names. It was manufactured by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., which manufactured ranitidine products sold by Dr. Reddy, Kroger and Walgreens. Brand names included American Health Packaging, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Precision Dose, Appco Pharma, Sandoz Inc. (a division of Novartis) and Northwind Pharmaceuticals.
Talk to your doctor about your ranitidine use
If you are taking a medication for heartburn or ulcers, carefully read the product labeling to see if it contains ranitidine.
If you are taking a ranitidine medication, stop and contact your primary care physician. The FDA recommends patients take an alternative heartburn medication, such as Pepcid (famotidine), Tagamet (cimetidine), Nexium (esomeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole) or Prilosec (omeprazole). Discuss these with your physician. There have been no NDMA impurities found with these products, according to the April 1st announcement.
You may be thinking you don’t want to reach out to your doctor during the COVID-19 emergency, but this type of preventative step is important. You may have other medical conditions or other medications which you need to consider. Your doctor can advise you on how to take your medications safely.
Take care to safely dispose the medication
Due to the COVID 19 outbreak, the FDA is advising consumers to follow the disposal directions on packaging and dispose of medications at home, rather than a drug take-back location in your community.
Zantac lawsuits have already been filed, with more expected
Patients have already filed Zantac lawsuits, alleging Sanofi, the manufacturer, failed to warn consumers that the medication contained NDMA and of potential risks. Our lawyers are advising and representing Massachusetts residents who may have been affected.
Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck represents those injured by defective products, including unsafe medication and defective medical devices in Massachusetts. If you have taken Zantac or another ranitidine medication subject to FDA action, you may have suffered illness and want to learn more about your legal rights. You can find more information on Breakstone, White & Gluck’s web page on Zantac and ranitidine or contact our attorneys.
Parents place a great deal of trust in baby carriers to support their children. However, you should now check yours because it may not be as safe as you think.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a Feb. 6th recall notice for about 14,000 Infantino baby carriers sold by Amazon and Target between Nov. 15 and Dec. 20, 2019. Because the recalls took place over the holiday season, parents could have purchased a baby carrier or received one as a holiday gift.
While no injuries have been reported, the buckles on the infant carriers can break, causing a child’s fall. Parents should stop using the front-facing baby carriers and request a free replacement.
The Infantino carriers have a black or gray body, with black straps, and a front pocket. Look for the code sewn inside the carrier. This is the place to start because baby carriers often look similar.
Go Forward 4-in-1 Evolved Ergonomic Carrier
Go Forward 4-in-1 Evolved Ergonomic Carrier
Flip Front2back Carrier
Up Close Newborn Carrier
High Rate of Children’s Products Recalls
As you check if your baby carrier was recalled, look around your home for other children’s products, such as strollers, car seats, cribs and other baby furniture. Take a minute to visit the CPSC website and type in the product name. This is a good time of year to check children’s products because you may be using some of them more in the nice weather.
Children’s products have a high rate of recalls so it is best to check a few times of year and follow the news and the CPSC website. Manufacturers do not always contact parents directly and there are times parents may be using a hand-me-down recall product, making it harder to track product recalls or news about injuries.
But so far, 2020 has been a year to follow recall news. Just as the holiday season ended, a series of children’s product recalls began. On January 16th, the CPSC announced the recall of 2,000 “Baby Trend” strollers sold by Amazon and Target. Those too could drop children should the stroller hinge joints release and collapse under pressure.
Then on January 29th, the CPSC announced the recall of 165,000 infant sleepers from Summer Infant, Graco, Delta Enterprise Corp. and Evenflo. The inclined sleepers are the latest recalls in the wake of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play, which was recalled in April 2019.
As authorities continue to investigate, families have reported more than 70 infant deaths in inclined infant sleepers. University of Arkansas researchers have studied these sleepers and recommended infants sleep on flat surfaces or less than a 10 degree incline if any. The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play and other sleepers placed children at a 30 degree incline, creating a risk for suffocation when infants attempted to turn.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Product Liability Lawyer
Breakstone, White & Gluck has obtained record results for plaintiffs in Massachusetts cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability. If you or a loved one has been injured by an unsafe or defective product, our attorneys can advise you of your legal rights to seek compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact our product liability attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
There is a disturbing new report out about children ingesting rare-earth magnet sets at an accelerated rate since 2016, when the industry overturned a federal sales ban in court. The magnet industry now markets these powerful cluster sets to adults, but children continue to swallow them. Parents can take precautions by double checking holiday gifts and discarding any of these products.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a rule banning the small rare-earth magnet sets in 2014 after hundreds of children reportedly ingested the magnets. The rare-earth magnets were (and still are) about 10 times as strong as other magnets. The CPSC’s ban required magnetic parts to have a lower force of attraction of 50 kG² mm² or less.
Magnet makers are now working to establish a voluntary safety standard to avoid future attempts at regulation. With the committee votes due in January, The Washington Post reports safety warnings may be added, but actual product changes are unlikely.
The Washington Post reported on many aspects of the process, including:
Voting members. The ASTM International organization oversees the process for creating voluntary safety standards for consumer products. The committee set to vote includes safety advocates and magnet industry officials or those with ties to the industry. CPSC staff is involved, but do not lead the process.
One potential issue is the number of voting members has shifted recently from 36 to 33, according to The Washington Post. The magnet industry can only represent 49 percent of the vote according to ASTM guidelines, but the industry and members with ties to the industry accounted for 55 percent of the vote when the story was published. The newspaper also reported some of the voting members were incorrectly categorized.
No agreement on magnet size. Some of the committee members want to make the magnets too large to swallow and/or decrease the strength to reduce the risk a child’s risk of organ damage. These committee members asked about increasing the magnet size to 1.25 inches in diameter. This would fall more into line with the federal “small parts” law which requires toys to carry a choking hazard warning if any parts fit through a cylinder with this diameter. The bottom of the testing cylinder is slanted, opening 1 to 2.25 inches. The choking hazard warning must also state, “Not for children under 3 yrs.”
Industry officials oppose, saying the proposal would make the tiny magnets six times as large and also increase the magnet force.
The ballot calls for adding new safety warnings on packaging and a change so consumers can visually check that all the advertised magnets are inside the box. There are no other changes.
While a voluntary safety standard should improve safety, a CPSC commissioner told The Washington Post the process can actually cost lives. Rare-earth magnets are just one story when change isn’t about protecting children, but protecting an industry. As a consumer, take time to really read just what the safety warnings and labels say.
The CPSC offers an online database for product recalls and updates. You may find advisories associated with certain types of products before a formal recall occurs. Other organizations – such as Consumer Reports, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Safe Kids – also publish valuable information and insights. Subscribe to newsletters and learn as much as you can about shopping for children’s products and toys.
Breakstone, White & Gluck shares product recalls on our blog and Facebook page. Read more about rare-earth magnets and magnet gifts for children in our recent blog, “Keep Magnet Toys Off Your Holiday Shopping List.”
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Product Liability Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has expertise in handling all types of product liability claims, including those involving defective consumer products, dangerous toys, unsafe vehicles and hazardous medical devices. Our Boston product liability lawyers represent clients who have been injured by negligence throughout Massachusetts, from Boston to Plymouth to Cape Cod, Worcester, Western Massachusetts and the North Shore.
For a free legal consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
The Worst Toys of 2019 list has been released, providing parents and grandparents a preview of toys to avoid this holiday season. We urge you to read this list before you shop. Each toy mentioned has caused injury or has grave potential. We want Massachusetts families to steer clear and enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.
As you read, remember there are just 10 spaces on the Worst Toys list, which is compiled by W.A.T.C.H. – or World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. Yet there are far more toys out there which may be unsafe or inappropriate for your child’s age. Read our blog on the Worst Toys list, to help you identify common features in unsafe toys, such as small parts which could cause choking injuries.
Toy injuries are a daily risk for many families in Massachusetts, not just during the holidays. Across the country, 251,700 people suffered toy-related injuries in 2017. From 2015 to 2017, 37 children died while playing. These devastating numbers are preventable if manufacturers, distributors and retailers safely handle products throughout the supply chain. Parents can do their part by always reading and following age recommendation labels. Remember you also have help on this front. You can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for product warnings and recalls before you shop this holiday season, and throughout the year. You can also sign up for e-mail alerts.
1- Nerf Ultra One
Though it looks like a blast, this Nerf toy is a $49.99 danger, W.A.T.C.H. says. The dart blaster shoots up to 120 feet and claims to be the “Farthest Flying Nerf Dart. Ever.” It carries an age recommendation of 8 and up, with several troubling warnings. W.A.T.C.H. reports the darts can be shot with enough force to cause eye injuries.
2 – Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog
Spike is a risky toy because he comes with 12 removable quills, all 3 ½ inches long, W.A.TC.H. The problem is the packaging carries an age recommendation of 18+ months. This is deceptive, leading parents into conclude this is a safe toy for young children of that age. The age recommendation should be higher and carry a choking hazard label.
3 – Bumchems Bunch’N Build
These building toys stick together and make cute formations. What’s not cute is how they can get caught in your child’s hair. The manufacturer is clearly aware of this potential, advising parents to keep their child’s hair pulled back to avoid entanglement. Although they continue selling it, you don’t have to buy it. Carefully consider how your child and what could happen if you leave the room for a moment.
4 – YETI
Pull at this doll’s white fur and with little effort, it becomes loose. Then it gathers, creating a choking hazard. The $21 toy is being sold everywhere this year, including Walmart.com, Target.com and Amazon.com. W.A.T.C.H. critically notes the toy has a recommendation of 24 months and up – on a removable sticker. Once this sticker comes off, consumers have to guess at the appropriate age.
Age recommendations are the most fundamental tool parents have in choosing safe toys. A removable label makes it hard to make safe choices, especially if you are handing the toy down between children.
5- Nickelodeon Frozen Treats Slime
What can we say about this $9.99 slime toy? Or is it food? The truth is, it is a chemical which if ingested, can seriously harm your child. The confusing part is this slime really looks like a frozen treat on the box.
We urge you not to buy slime mixtures or any type of pretend food. There are plenty of other gift options. Traditional crafts such as drawing sets or even Play Doh are better choices. They don’t require any mixing of ingredients.
6 – Anstoy Electronic Toy Gun
W.A.T.C.H. is always critical of marketing realistic toy guns to children and has highlighted the practice over many years. This year it says the Anstoy electronic gun is being unsafely marketed for children age 14+ and can be found online by anyone with an Amazon account. We agree: steer clear of guns and choose toys which involve sports. A soccer ball, basketball or a new snowsled sound like great gifts to us!
7 – Diecast School Bus
This miniature school bus is a choking hazard because the small rubber tires can become loose. They are mounted on plastic wheels and can be pulled apart. So many toys have similar hazards and should be kept out of homes with younger children.
8 – Pogo Trick Board
This toy is a “high bounce ball” with dual handles for “tricking out.” The age recommendation is children 6 and up. The manufacturer warns children to wear a helmet to protect against head injuries. But the packaging shows two children using the board without a helmet. There is one child bouncing high while wearing a helmet, but overall, there’s not a strong advisory to parents.
9 – Power Rangers Electronic Cheetah Claw
“Do not hit or swing at people or animals.” “Use away from breakable objects.” Finally, this toy carries a small parts warning, even though the age recommendation is 5+.
With so many warnings, why would you want to buy this toy? It may look cool to your child, but you have to remember it’s winter in Massachusetts. This is not a toy you want your child swinging around your home. Hasbro, the manufacturer, says the toy can cause potential eye or facial injuries.
10 – Viga Pull Along Caterpillar
This is an adorable toy, but it made the W.A.T.C.H. list because of its long string. This could cause a potential choking or strangulation hazard. The Viga Pull Along Caterpillar is a pull toy and should have a warning to go with its 24-inch cord.
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Boston Product Liability Lawyers – Boston Defective Toy Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck is experienced in representing those injured in Massachusetts in cases involving product liability and defective products. Manufacturers have a responsibility to conduct safety testing and properly label toys with age recommendations. When they neglect this responsibility, toys are not safe to use.
We urge parents to keep magnet toys off your holiday shopping list for young children. High-powered “rare-earth” desk magnet toys are highly dangerous and there are many painful stories of children ingesting them, then fighting for their lives in surgery. But there are also other types of magnet toys, including magnet tile building sets and magnet construction toys. While these are very popular, this doesn’t mean they are safe for your family. Take time to do your research, read age recommendations and really consider your children’s needs.
Magnet Desk Toys or Cluster Magnet Toys
Read by product type:
Magnet Desk Toys or Cluster Magnet Toys
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has worked to take desktop magnet toys off the market to prevent injuries to children. The problem is the average set has 125 or 216 strong magnet balls, though some have more than 1,000 pieces. The magnets are tiny and are extremely high-powered.
These magnet sets come apart and can be reassembled into unique shapes. In a child’s hands, the magnet clusters may become a necklace, triangle or whatever formation they imagine. When magnets are put in a child’s mouth, they can attract to each other, causing serious injuries in the digestive system as well as blood poisoning. Children usually require surgery for the intense pain.
New Magnet Safety Standard. Prior to 2014, “rare-earth” magnet sets were required to carry age recommendation labeling of 14 and older. In 2014, the CPSC established a federal toy safety standard which required magnets to be large enough to exceed the CPSC’s “small part” standard for toys or that magnetic parts have a force of attraction of 50 kG² mm² or less, according to the CPSC’s Final Rule: Safety Standards for Magnet Sets. The CPSC safety standard effectively made it illegal to sell “rare-earth” magnet sets in the U.S. and there was a positive response, an 80 percent reduction in magnet-ingested injuries, according to The Journal of Pediatrics.
You may guess young children are at the highest risk. But children age 4 through 12 suffered the most injuries in the CPSC’s analysis of ER visits over 5 years, from 2009 to 2013. According to the Federal Register dated October 3, 2014, the agency concluded an estimated 2,900 children had suffered magnet ingestion injuries. Children age 4 through 12 suffered 1,900 injuries – or 65 percent.
Tile Magnet Toys
For all this work, in 2016, the 10th Circuit of Appeals ruled the CPSC’s pre-requisite factual findings were “incomplete and inadequately explained.” The Court vacated the safety standard and remanded it back to the CPSC for further proceedings.
The lawsuit had been filed by Zen Magnets, one of the “rare-earth” magnet makers. The company is now selling its products again, under the Buckyballs and Mandala names, according to Tech Crunch. Again, we stress, please don’t buy these toys, especially if you have children or a pet. The parts are small and scatter easily. If you don’t find our blog compelling, we encourage you to read this article in STAT, called “Toy magnets are harming kids again. They need to be banned – for good,” August 6, 2019.
Tile Magnet Toys
These are magnets encased in plastic triangle and square shapes. These are popular, marketed as toys that help stimulate learning and imagination. Some of these are designed for children under age 3, some for children ages 3 and up; others are for age 6 and up. If you do purchase one of these sets, carefully check the age recommendation and secure it in a container out of reach of children.
There has been at least one case of the encasements opening and a child swallowing magnets. Last December, a Wisconsin mother shared her frightening story on social media and the Today Show reported on it. The woman’s 4-year-old son had swallowed 13 magnets from one of the tile magnet kits. After he began vomiting, she rushed him to a local hospital where surgeons had to remove part of his colon, intestine and appendix. The product manufacturer was not identified in the story.
The CPSC regularly issues recalls about toys containing small magnet parts. One of the largest recalls involving tile magnet building toys came in 2006, when Mega Brands America, Inc. recalled 4 million Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets. The recall was first announced on March 31, 2006 and re-issued and expanded in April 2007. The CPSC reported one child had died and one child had suffered aspiration. 27 others had suffered intestinal injuries, according to the CPSC news release.
The tragedy could have claimed even more lives; there had been 1,500 reports of magnets coming apart. Although the Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets were labeled age 6 and older, at least 10 injuries involved older children, up to age 11.
Magnetic Construction Sets
According to CBS News, in October of 2006, Mega Brands America settled a lawsuit with 15 victims for $13.5 million.
In 2009, consumers learned there was further wrongdoing in this case. On April 14, the CPSC announced that Mega Brands America, Inc. had agreed to pay a $1.1 million civil penalty to settle allegations that the company (and Rose Art Industries, which it had acquired) had failed to provide timely information about product dangers to children.
Magnetic Construction Sets
These sets include plastic rods and balls which can be snapped together with the magnet attraction.
Final Word on Safety
One problem is Consumer Reports found a full range of age recommendations across several popular products – and manufacturers unwilling to answer questions. Since age recommendations are the most fundamental tool consumers have, we recommend steering clear of these.
Final Word on Safety
The CPCS is responsible for overseeing product recalls and a quick search of its database can glean valuable information for parents. Visit www.cpsc.gov and search by product name or type of products. You can also visit the CPSC’s magnet information center.
With magnet toys, product regulations and age recommendations continue to change. They are very challenging to bring into any home safely, but especially homes with children of various ages and development skills and pets. In the end, you must make your own decision, but we urge you to be overly cautious and purchase other toys. There are so many other toys out there which can provide your child with a safe and enjoyable experience.
Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Toy Safety Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm specializing in personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability. We wish Massachusetts families a safe and healthy holiday season and share our toy safety tips as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.
If you have been injured, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck to learn your legal rights at 800-379- or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
There is a new and frightening warning out about infant sleepers. This time, families are being urged to stop using Kids II infant rocking sleepers because they have been linked to the deaths of five infants. Kids II recalled its entire line of infant rocking sleepers on Friday – approximately 36 models and 694,000 individual products – just two weeks after the stunning Fisher-Price recall.
Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million of its Rock ‘n Play sleepers on April 12, after an investigation linked the product to more than 30 deaths over 10 years. This means that combined, the two companies sold more than 5.3 million defective sleepers to unknowing families.
Kids II introduced its sleepers in March 2012. Five infants have since died while using the sleepers after rolling from their back to their stomach while unrestrained or under other circumstances.
These sleepers were sold at Target, Walmart and Toys “R” Us as well as online, with a price tag of $40-$80. Parents and grandparents who own one should stop using the Kids II sleepers and contact the company for a recall or a voucher to use toward another product. Parents can call Kids II toll-free at 1-866-869-7954 8:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the company’s website.
Read the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall notice for a full list of the recalled sleepers. One of the models was sold with Disney branding.
In the Fisher-Price case, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the company, which is part of Mattel, initially announced the sleeper had been linked to at least 10 deaths in early April. The company said the deaths all involved children who were 3 months or older. The company’s remedy was for parents to stop using the rocker when children turned 3 months old or became capable of turning themselves over.
Soon after began the calls for a recall. Consumer Reports and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) were the leading advocates in both the Fisher-Price and Kids II sleeper recalls. Both products put children in canopy-like sleeper, which can rock to music and is highly likely to move if an infant can. The AAP warns the rocking sleepers are unsafe and create a risk for suffocation and strangulation. The academy advises that infants should only sleep on flat surfaces such as cribs or bassinets. The sleeping surface should be free of soft bedding, toys and other products.
After Friday’s recall, Consumer Reports asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission if the agency intends to recall all sleepers on the market. An agency spokesperson said it continues to actively investigate sleep products and was “reassessing the product class and hazards associated with it.” Meanwhile, Mattel has announced the Fisher-Price recall will cost the company $27.3 for the quarter ending March 31, 2019. But the recall won’t entirely remove the sleeper from homes. According to Consumer Reports, Fisher-Price sells the same product in Canada, but markets it as a “soothing seat.”
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Product Liability Attorneys
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm which represents individuals who have been injured by unsafe products. When a product has caused injury, there should be an investigation to determine the cause, which often falls under three categories: defective design, manufacturing error or a failure to warn consumers about the potential for injury. If someone in your family has been injured by a defective product, learn your rights. Contact our Boston product liability lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.