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Confidential settlement – death of baby from bean bag pillow

Most people believe that when a baby product is sold in a national retail store (like here, Toys R Us), it must be safe for use by babies. And most parents would have no reason to think that a small baby pillow, filled with polystyrene beads, would pose a lethal threat to their young child.  They would all be wrong.

Products sold to the public can be deadly to children, including things like pillows.  In this case the product in question killed several babies across the United States.

John Elliott Leighton represented the family of a baby who was killed when a “Cushie Comfort” bean bag pillow killed their child. 6-week-old Baby Bill Lindstrom died when he suffocated from using a small pillow in his crib. “I’ll never forget seeing the imprint of his face in the pillow,” his mother said.

Leighton discovered that these bean bag (polystyrene-filled bead) pillows were specifically marketed for use in cribs with small babies. They were sold in toy stores.  Despite evidence known in the industry that such items should never used placed in cribs, these products were widely marketed for use this way and were shown in packaging and promoted for use in cribs.

Without performing any research or safety testing the manufacturer and retailer sold these pillows.  Babies do not have the head strength to life their heads.  When using the pillow, under some conditions the babies would turn face down and be unable to lift their heads to breathe.

Mr. Leighton worked with university researchers who, through testing, discovered that the babies would re-breathe air that had a high carbon dioxide content and continue to re-breathe until they went into a coma and eventually died. Over a dozen infants died from these products.

The cause of many of these baby deaths were initially ruled SIDS – sudden infant death syndrome, a diagnosis of exclusion when the cause cannot be otherwise explained.  But these were not true SIDS deaths.

Leighton and his clients brought the product before the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and obtained a mandatory recall and sales ban of these products, which have all been removed from sale throughout the United States. This was one of the first mandatory product recalls the CPSC had ever ordered (most other recalls are voluntary by the manufacturer).

Then Leighton filed suit against the manufacturer to recover damages for the family and prevent the product from being placed in stores.  A confidential settlement was obtained from the retailer after the manufacturer sought bankruptcy protection. Although the Lindstrom family lost their precious child, they performed a critical service to those many other families whose babies were at risk for death by the use of this product had they not brought a lawsuit and had the CPSC recall these pillows.

Mr. Leighton has gone on to represent many other families who have lost their precious children due to defectively designed baby and juvenile products, such as car seats, high chairs and infant carriers.  It is only through bringing cases in the civil justice system that dangerous products are removed from the shelves of stores.  With the proliferation of online shopping, many consumers never see a salesperson live, nor do they get the chance to handle and examine the product before it is purchased.

 

Disclaimer: The information about past verdicts and settlements of the firm’s cases are based on the unique facts of each case. These amounts reflect the gross recovery in each case (before attorneys fees, expenses and medical costs are deducted). Although these results were obtained by our firm, they may not indicate the success or value of any other case. By clicking on Verdicts and Settlements you are acknowledging that each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The information contained here has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar.

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