Attorneys for Defective & Dangerous Toys
Toy manufacturers, like other companies, are required to produce toys that are, most importantly, safe for children. Unfortunately, parents often find themselves rushing to emergency rooms because their child has swallowed a small detachable part, has been burnt, or has been strangled. In 2008, thousands of parents rushed their children to labs for lead detection tests to find out if their child had ingested dangerously high levels of lead from toxic paint on their toys. In 2003, more than 155,000 children, most of them below the age of 4, required emergency room treatment due to dangerous toy related injuries. That same year, there were 11 dangerous toy related deaths.
Our firm represents clients throughout the United States who have been injured by defective and dangerous children's toys. We are committed to helping families recover the money that will cover an injured child's medical bills, continued treatment and possibly much more. You can find out more about our services by calling us today.
Choking & Aspiration Hazards
Choking and aspiration hazards are the #1 toy-related hazard facing U.S. families. Many of these hazards can be avoided if manufacturers simply post strong warning labels on the packaging of the toy, certifying the age group for which the toy is recommended. Toys that have detachable parts are not recommended for children below the age of three years; this warning must prominently featured on a toy's packaging. There is also a risk of toys purchased for older children in the family making their way into the hands of younger children.
In 2003, choking-related deaths linked to children's toys accounted for 64% of the total number of deaths caused by dangerous toys that year. Children below three years old are the most likely to choke on small balls, marbles, balloons, screws, small detachable parts of toys, etc. In 2003, close to 72% of all choking deaths related to toys were linked to choking on small balls; however, children can also choke on things like un-inflated balloons, pieces of burst balloons, and magnets in toys. Even the harmless looking stuffed toy your child plays with can conceal dangers in the form of buttons and beads that make up its eyes and nose; these parts can come off, posing the risk of choking.
Almost all major toy manufacturers have been forced to recall thousands of toys after they were found to present choking hazards. While a child's tendency to put things in his or her mouth can't be curbed, manufacturers can take steps to make sure that risks are kept to an absolute minimum. For instance, teethers and baby rattles should be large enough that they cannot fit in a child's throat. Also, toy cars and buses must not have wheels that can come off.
Toxic Ingestion Hazards
Some of the biggest toy recalls in U.S. history have had to do with toys that concealed toxic ingestion hazards, most notably, the ingestion of lead. As one toy giant after another recalled large volumes of toys, doctors advised worried parents to get their children's blood lead levels checked. Most of the toxic toys were manufactured outside the U.S., where standards of lead paint exposure to children are not as stringently maintained as they are in the U.S. However, it is the responsibility of toy makers to ensure their products do not contain unsafe chemical levels.
Some common toxic ingestion hazards with toys include the following:
- Lead Poisoning - Lead ingestion usually occurs when younger children put toys that have been painted with toxic lead paint into their mouths. Children below the age of two are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning through oral ingestion. Lead poisoning through toys is not a one-time occurrence where a child can ingest large quantities of lead through sucking on a toy. Rather, it's a slow process of accumulation in which a small amount of exposure over a period of weeks and months leads to a rise in lead levels in the blood. A child with a high level of lead in their blood may not show any noticeable outward symptoms of toxicity, although the amount may be sufficient to cause long term brain damage to children in the form of low IQ development and delay in developmental milestones. Lead poisoning is a particularly acute problem in young children because their gastrointestinal systems absorb lead more readily than adults' systems do.
- Phthalates - Phthalates are a group of hazardous chemicals known to cause genital abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, and other reproductive defects in male children exposed to them for long periods of time. These chemicals are often added to plastics to give them a softer, smoother and more appealing feel. Common infant products that include phthalates are teething rings, baby rattlers, pacifiers, bottle nipples, and talcum powder. These can enter the body when the child places toys in his mouth, and can interfere with sperm production in male children, leading to decreased levels of testosterone, as well as malformed genitals. The dangers are strong enough that pregnant women are advised to keep away from air fresheners, cosmetics and other products that contain phthalates because exposure can cause reproductive system abnormalities in a male fetus.
Buckyballs® & Buckycube™ Recall: Injuries from Ingested Magnets
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has filed a complaint against Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC for the manufacturing of their dangerous products, Buckyballs® and Buckycube™. These magnet products caused hundreds of serious injuries around the country when consumers, primarily children and teenagers, ingested the magnets. The CPSC is alleging that the company manufactured a product with design defects, packaging defects and marketing defects. Most retailers are now clearing these harmful magnetic products off of their shelves due to the recall. As far back as 2009, the CPSC has been getting complaints of these magnets causing consumers significant harm.
The complaint filed against Maxfield & Oberton was an administrative complaint, which is extremely rare. In fact, only one other administrative complaint has been filed within the past 11 years. CPSA 15 of the U.S. Code, § 2053 gives the commission authority to file this type of complaint.
So what are buckyballs and buckycubes?
These products are made up of multiple individual magnets that are packaged together in clumps of 10, 125, and 216. The CPSC in part is filing this complaint because Maxfield manufactured these products to children, calling it an "amazing magnetic toy." Later, the product changed its marketing to target adults as a desk toy. More than 2 million of these products have been sold to consumers around the United States since the product released.
What was happening was some children and teenagers were ingesting the product, causing injuries to the digestive tract. Many individuals even needed surgery to remediate the damage. A bulk of the complaints came after children (typically under the age of 14) ingested two or more of these magnets. What was happening was that the magnetic force would pull the magnets together after they were already in the digestive tract and then pinch the intestinal wall and tissue together. In some, this caused tissue injury, inflammation, ulcers, infections, and even death.
If children do not tell their parents of swallowing the magnets, then parents and doctors alike would misdiagnose the condition as symptoms were highly similar to stomach flu or another type of gastrointestinal upset. Initial symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Because the situation was not seen as life-threatening in many cases, necessary surgery was delayed. This caused some to suffer permanent and life-threatening internal injuries.
The CPSC claims that there was a lack of proper warnings on the labels for these products. The requirement for a product of this type is to warn "for children 14+" while the company warned "for children 13+" but even when the company changed their packaging, the injuries continued to occur. The CPSC also claims warnings for the products are ineffective, because once the products are taken out of their cases, children no longer care about the safety risks.
Dangerous Toys: Pocket Bikes
Pocket bikes are being marketed to children, teenagers, and adults throughout the country. These mini-motorcycles look exactly like full-scale motorbikes, but are only two feet tall and forty pounds in weight. However, the danger comes from the fact that they are fast. With 40cc engines, they can race up to 50mph. Due to the hazards that these dangerous "toys" have created, they are now restricted in some states.
For example, while they may be allowed on private property, they are not allowed on public streets or sidewalks. This is also due to the fact that they do not come equipped with required road safety equipment (lights, turn signals, mirrors) and they are not registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Other states have age restrictions for who can legally operate these bikes.
Thousands of reports of injuries and deaths have been flooding in. Due to their small size, it has been shown that other drivers have had difficulty in seeing them. When struck by a motor vehicle, pocket bike riders have little or no protection against injury. In other cases, bike riders have collided with pedestrians, causing serious injuries.
Attorneys for Defective & Dangerous Toy Claims
If your child was injured and you believe a dangerous or defective toy was to blame, talk to a legal professional at our law offices. We can determine whether you have grounds for a product liability suit against the manufacturer.
Do you have a case involving a children's toy? Contact a product liability lawyer at our firm.