A Hanover Park woman who purchased a crib from Simplicity Inc. that is part of the largest recall of full-sized cribs ever in the U.S. went to court Monday seeking damages for owners of the cribs.
Amber Spitzer, whose 1-year-old daughter, Briana, had been sleeping in a Simplicity crib, said: "My daughter is my life, and I would do anything to protect her and I know that there are millions of parents out there that feel the same way. So if the government won't protect our children, then I will."
The class-action lawsuit was filed in Minneapolis against Simplicity as well as Target Corp., the company from whom Spitzer bought the Aspen 4 in 1 crib for her daughter in April 2006. Also named as a defendant was Graco Children's Products Inc., the company that licensed its name to Simplicity for some of the cribs that were recalled.
Representatives for Simplicity and Graco declined to comment because the lawsuit was just filed. Efforts to reach representatives of Target were unsuccessful.
On Friday, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, prompted by a Tribune investigation, issued a recall of 1 million Simplicity cribs, including the Aspen 4 in 1, that were sold from 1998 until May of this year. Three children died, seven were trapped and there were 55 other incidents—all related to a design flaw and hardware failure involving the separation of the cribs' drop rail from their frame. The recall advises consumers to contact Simplicity for a repair kit.
The lawsuit was filed by Charles Kelly, a San Francisco product liability attorney who had represented the family of Liam Johns, a 9-month-old boy who died in April 2005 in Citrus Heights, Calif., in a Simplicity crib.
"The recall is grossly inadequate and irresponsible," Kelly said Monday. "Simplicity should be required to tell consumers to dismantle their crib, and return it for a full refund.
"A retrofit kit only invites disaster," he said. "Only one retrofit kit needs to be used incorrectly and we could have another death. It was improper assembly ... that caused the three deaths in the first instance."
The lawsuit alleges that Simplicity should have warned consumers about the dangers of the cribs or stopped the selling them.
"We contend they should have done something after learning of the injuries and particularly after learning of Liam's death," Kelly said. "They did neither."
Kelly also said he sent letters to members of Congress asking for hearings into why more than two years elapsed after the first death in one of these cribs before the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall was announced Friday.