Wolf Haldenstein Files Federal Class Action Against Fisher-Price & Mattel for Consumer Protection Violations in Selling the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
New York, NY – April 29, 2019 – On April 19, 2019, Wolf Haldenstein and Connors LLP filed a consumer class action against Fisher-Price, Inc. and its corporate parent Mattel Inc. (“Defendants”) on behalf of Cassandra Mulvey and all other owners of Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘n Play Sleeper since 2009, alleging violations of consumer protection laws, breach of warranty, unjust enrichment and other claims. The case, Mulvey v. Fisher–Price, Inc. and Mattel, Inc., Case No. 1:19-cv-00518 (W.D.N.Y.), is pending in federal court in Buffalo, New York, where Fisher-Price is located. To read the complaint, click here.
Wolf Haldenstein began investigating the dangers of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper in early 2018. Our investigation revealed that Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is inherently unsafe as a sleeper and unfit for its intended use. Its use poses a number of serious safety risks that have led to many documented instances of infant deaths and injuries. By positioning an infant at a 30-degree incline, the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper significantly increases the risk that the infant’s head will slip into a dangerous position, tilt to constrict the windpipe and/or cause the infant’s face to become pressed against the padded fabric in the sleeper and block airflow, which the infant may be unable to correct. This increases the risk of death by asphyxiation. In addition, because Fisher-Price advises parents to keep babies strapped in restraints overnight while sleeping on an incline, the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper increases an infant’s risk of developing flat head (plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (torticollis) syndromes, conditions that often requires babies to wear expensive head-molding helmets and undergo physical therapy. Nonetheless, Defendants introduced the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper to the market in 2009 and have sold at least 4.7 million units of the product despite knowing the entire time that the American Academy of Pediatricians and other infant sleep safety experts advise that the only safe sleep environment for an infant is in a supine position (wholly on the back) on a firm sleep surface covered by a fitted sheet and without soft materials and other objects.
On February 21, 2019, Wolf Haldenstein sent a demand letter to Fisher-Price and Mattel setting forth these and other factual allegations and causes of action, putting Defendants on notice of their wrongdoing in the hope that they would take responsibility for failing to disclose the true risks of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and halt their misleading marketing of the product. Thereafter, on April 5, 2019, Defendants issued a statement admitting that ten infants had died in the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper since 2015 and recommended that parents stop using the product after an infant reaches three months or is able to roll over, thereby assuring parents that the product is safe for younger infants. However, instead of disclosing the documented risks of using the product, Defendants blamed parents and caregivers, claiming any deaths resulted from using the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper in a manner contrary to safety warnings. A week later, on April 12, 2019, Defendants disclosed that there were at least 32 infant deaths in the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper since 2011 and “voluntarily” recalled all 4.7 million units of the product and took the product off the market – an admission that the use of the Rock ‘n Play is dangerous regardless of the age of the infant. Nonetheless, in the recall notice, Defendants once again failed to disclose the risks of using their deadly product, and, as experts agree, the recall itself is inadequate, cumbersome and confusing.
Defendants are well aware of reports that parents still do not understand the potentially fatal dangers of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and continue using the product, including for babies who are less than three months old. In an effort to protect their business interests at the cost of families that are at risk of losing or injuring their infant, however, Defendants continue to cast the blame on parents and caregivers. According to Chuck Scothon, General Manager of Fischer-Price, Defendants launched the recall “due to reported incidents in which the product was used contrary to the safety warnings and instructions” and that Defendants “stand by the safety of our products.”
In her federal consumer class action, Cassandra Mulvey, a mother who used the Rock ‘n Play for her infant without knowing of its risks, seeks to protect babies and their caregivers by holding Defendants accountable for their decade-long failure to disclose the known dangers and misleading advertising of their product, Defendants’ insufficient recall notice in which they egregiously blame parents whose infants died or became injured as a result of Defendants’ intentional wrongdoing, and wholly inadequate notice protocols. Among other things, Ms. Mulvey, on behalf of herself and all owners of the Rock ‘n Play since January 1, 2009, demands that Defendants implement a nationwide corrective advertising and educational campaign that accurately discloses the dangers and risks of the product, and to modify the inadequate recall protocols, under which, among other things, owners receive disparate treatment depending on how long they owned the product and whether or not they kept their receipts.
Ms. Mulvey and the proposed class are represented by Wolf Haldenstein of counsel Kate McGuire; Connors LLP’s founding partner Terrence M. Connors, Caitlin M. Higgins and Katherine Howard; and Elbert F. Nasis, partner at Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP. Wolf Haldenstein is thankful to Katharine Cronin, MS, MPH, CPNP, who is a pediatric nurse practitioner at Suffolk Pediatric Associates and a member of Columbia University’s clinical faculty, and her husband Ryan Cronin, a litigator at Blank Rome LLP, for bringing the dangers and risks of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper to our attention.