The scale of the danger posed by Simplicity's 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 bassinets is becoming clearer: over 900,000 bassinets have been sold with a dangerous design flaw that has led to at least two strangulation deaths in the last year. And despite their claims otherwise, the newly reconstituted Simplicity, aka SFCA, Inc. is still involved.
After the CPSC issued their unusual consumer warning last week and began working with the six largest retailers to remove the bassinets from the market, reporters from the Chicago Tribune bought two of the deadly bassinets at a local Baby Depot. [The retailers involved in the recall are Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, Kmart, Big Lots, Target and J.C. Penney.] The sales clerk incorrectly assured the reporters that the bassinets were not covered by the recall. This retailer-based recall was necessitated by SFCA's refusal to cooperate with a recall of products made when the company was called Simplicity For Children, or Simplicity, Inc.:
SFCA countered by saying Simplicity products are not its responsibility. "The products in question were manufactured and distributed by Simplicity Inc., a company that is no longer in business," SFCA said in a written statement. "SFCA purchased Simplicity's assets at auction after Simplicity Inc. went out of business and has no legal liability for any products distributed previously by Simplicity."A commenter on Consumerist noted that Simplicity, Inc. transferred its patent for the bassinet to SFCA in April 2008, presumably as one of the assets SFCA acquired in the company's bankruptcy/reorganization. But on August 26th, the day before the CPSC issued its warning, SFCA assigned the patent to China United International Company in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
But one of the deadly bassinets the Tribune purchased Thursday carried a shipping label with the name "SFCA Inc." This seemed to contradict the written statement SFCA issued Thursday: "The CPSC product alert does not involve any product manufactured and distributed by SFCA Inc."
Asked to explain this discrepancy, SFCA spokesman Paul Nathanson would not comment directly. Instead, he wrote in an e-mail: "As far as I know none of these model numbers were manufactured and distributed by SFCA."
Whatever the legal and marketing ramifications, the Chicago Tribune reports that even the supposedly redesigned bassinets can be assembled in a way that poses the same strangulation risk. The CPSC has subsequently issued 66 model numbers that are for sure covered by the warning, as well as an updated list of retailers that sold the bassinets--and who are co-operating with the recall. If you have one of these bassinets, don't just throw it away; return it, get a refund, and get it out of circulation.
900,000 Bassinets Targeted [chicagotribune via consumerist]
Previously: After two strangulations and corporate shrugging, CPSC orders Simplicity co-sleepers off the market