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Graco Recalls 400,000 Additional Car Seats as Federal Agency Pushes for Recall of 1.8 Million More
Last month, we brought you news of a massive recall of nearly 3.8 million Graco child car safety seats, warning parents that children can get trapped by buckles that won't unlatch. Now, Atlanta-based Graco Children's Products Inc. has recalled an additional 403,222 car seats. But it may not be over. Federal safety officials say the issue may be to blame for at least one toddler's death, and that they want the company to recall another 1.8 million.
Graco is a named defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in California by the parents of two-year-old Leiana Ramirez, killed when the car she was riding in caught fire after an acciedent in Los Angeles in August 2011. Her mother and a bystander tried desperately, but were unable to remove Leilana from a Graco Nautilus car seat. She died in the burning wreckage, and the bystander was hospitalized after cutting his arms trying to free the baby.
In written statements, Graco argue that the problem is caused not by their products' design or manufacture, but by spilled fruit juices or food that can gunk up the latches' mechanism, adding that customers are experiencing "perception" and "frustration" issues rather than mechanical ones.
"As we have suggested all along, these buckles have gone through substantial testing that far exceed the government requirements, and they are safe and effective in restraining children," a Graco spokesperson wrote.
But investigators with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration strongly dispute that argument, pointing to more than 6,100 reviewed complaints from parents and caregivers saying that the buckles have been extremely difficult or even impossible to unlatch. Some detail instances wherein children have been trapped in their Graco carseats until straps could be cut, and in many of these cases, 911 was called for further help.
Models currently affected by the recall include:
- Toddler Convertible Car Seats
- Cozy Cline
- Comfort Sport
- Classic Ride 50
- My Ride 65
- My Ride 70
- Size4Me 70
- My Size 70
- Head Wise 70
- Smart Seat
- Harnessed Booster Seats
- Nautilus 3-in-1
- Nautilus Elite
- Nautilus Plus
- Argos 70 Elite
- Ready Ride
- Step 2
Thus far, Graco is refusing to expand the recall. With nearly 4.2 million units affected, the current recall already is the fourth-largest in history for child seats. If the NHTSA is successful in forcing the additional 1.8 million-unit expansion, this stands to become the largest child seat recall ever.
If believe you own one of the recalled car seats, stop using it immediately. If your child has not been injured, contact Graco at 800-345-4109 or firstname.lastname@example.org to request a replacement buckle. However, if your child has been injured by use of one of the affected units, get medical attention. Keep the seat and buckle intact and contact an experienced product liability attorney with Orlando-based Todd E. Copeland & Associates. Reach us at 407-999-8995 in Orlando or 407-847-7277 in Kissimmee.