Products Liability Suit: Chemicals in Infant car seat caused Permanent Disfigurement of Child

Excerpted from Cincinnati Enquirer  Jan 8, 2009

The infant car seat that was supposed to protect a baby girl ended up leaving her “permanently disfigured,” a Butler County couple claim in a lawsuit filed in Common Pleas Court.

“She will be scarred forever,” says Dana Luther, a Cincinnati attorney who filed the suit against Graco Children’s Products Inc. and its parent company, Newell Rubbermaid Inc., of Atlanta.

The suit that Luther filed on behalf of Mark and Natalie Stevens of Fairfield alleges their daughter, who was born in 2007, suffered “permanent depigmentation” – large, pure-white patches on her skin – as a result of contact with materials in a Graco Safe Seat.

The whitened areas are located on the girl’s legs, back, arms, head and face, the suit says.

A similar suit was filed last year against Evenflo Inc. A Pennsylvania couple alleged that a car seat caused their child to suffer a severe rash and blisters, and that chemicals used in car seats have been known to irritate skin and could pose other health risks, the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown, Pa., reported in May.

It’s unknown how many similar cases might exist, Luther said, but she said it’s clear that chemicals present in carseat materials are generating health concerns.

For example, researchers at Philadelphia University found elevated levels of formaldehyde in children’s clothing and brominated resins in children’s car seats.

In the Fairfield case, the child’s dermatologist determined that the child’s skin problems were caused by contact with her car seat, Luther said.

The doctor produced a report about the child’s case, stating: “The Graco line of car seats has been implicated in numerous cases of contact dermatitis (in children),” Luther said. The doctor mentioned several other people “with the same issues” as the Fairfield child, but Luther said she didn’t have details of those instances.

The suit also accuses the company of negligence and violations of product-liability laws.

The suit is seeking damages exceeding $100,000, plus attorneys’ fees and court costs.


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