Graco Children’s Products (Graco) has recently been issued a $10 million civil penalty from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for violating the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Specifically, the NHTSA has found that Graco failed to warn regulators about faulty latches on their defective child car seats in a timely manner.
By law, manufacturers of motor vehicle equipment – including child car seats – have to report defects or potential safety issues impacting this equipment to the NHTSA within five business days of discovering any issues.
In a consent order issued on March 20th, Graco agreed that it had violated the law and had failed to promptly report the issues with its defective child car seats.
Background on the Defective Child Car Seats
The defective child car seats that have led to this massive fine for Graco had latches that would remain engaged, sticking and trapping children in these seats. The gravest risk associated with these defective child car seats was typically in collision situations, when removing children from vehicles would be essential.
Eventually, Graco issued a recall for these defective child car seats in February 2014, following pressure from regulators. While this first recall impacted upwards of 4 million child car seats in the U.S., in June 2014, Graco issued a follow-up recall, affecting an additional 2 million seats. When all was said and done, this ended up being the biggest child car seat recall in U.S. history.
In December 2014, officials at the NHTSA opened up an investigation into Graco, particularly looking into how Graco reported and handled this recall.
Making Amends for the Defective Child Car Seats: The Next Steps for Graco
Upon signing the NHTSA consent order yesterday, Graco has agreed to:
- Pay $3 million in civil penalties
- Commit at least $7 million to meet the following performance obligations:
- Improving its processes for identifying possible safety issues in its motor vehicle-related products (including child car seats)
- Developing programs to get more parents to register their car seats and respond to child car seat recalls (Only about 40 percent of parents respond to child car seat recalls; in contrast, about 75 percent of vehicle owners respond to recalls impacting their vehicles)
- Improving its methods for (and efficacy of) addressing consumer complaints
- Improving its recall responses
- Investing in child safety campaigns.
Should Graco not use the full $7 million for the above-listed obligations within five years, the remainder will be due to the NHTSA.
Mount Vernon Product Liability Lawyers at the Law Firm of Hassakis & Hassakis, P.C.
Has a defective child car seat injured your child? Or have your or a loved one been hurt after using any dangerous or defective consumer product? If so, the experienced and trusted Mount Vernon product liability lawyers at the Law Firm of Hassakis & Hassakis, P.C. are ready to stand up for your rights. Since 1950, we have been providing the highest quality legal services and representation to our clients, and we are ready to help you in your pursuit of financial recovery and justice.
To learn more about your best legal options and how we can help you, contact us by calling (888) 896-9381 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the page. We can provide you with a free, thorough assessment of your case, along with professional advice regarding the best manner in which to move forward.