The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ordered the recall of over three million baby lounger products produced by Colorado-based Boppy Furniture Company after eight infants died after falling asleep in the loungers. Although the company claimed that their products were not intended for sleep, and that they came with warnings about letting infants sleep in them, the government argued that because babies sleep so much and a lounger is a comfortable place to sleep, letting a child fall asleep in one would be normal, even if it is an unintended use.
The recall provides a stark reminder of how dangerous common products can be. Manufacturers seek to limit their liability by including warnings in the products’ original packaging, but the fact is many people ignore that literature while they are assembling a product and forget about it after the product is in use. Manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries caused by manufacturing defects (such as using a cheaper material that fails while in use) and design defects (when a design element causes the product to fail). When the injury occurs while using the product in a way that seems normal, but that the manufacturer does not intend, making a claim for damages can become more complicated.
Even in cases of strict liability, establishing the level of damages to claim can be complex, including both damages that can be arrived at mathematically (like lost wages) and damages that are less defined (like pain and suffering). For a deeper understanding of the rules that govern product liability and the way attorneys arrive at an estimate of damages, read this article.