Evenflo Product Liability Litigation
Mahler v. Evenflo Company, Inc.
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Case No. 1:20-CV-10735
Keller Rohrback filed a class action lawsuit against Evenflo on April 14, 2020 in the District of Massachusetts. Attorneys Amy Williams-Derry, Gretchen Freeman Cappio, Alison E. Chase, and Matthew J. Preusch brought the action on behalf of Plaintiff Lauren Mahler, a nationwide class, and a Pennsylvania class. The suit alleges that Evenflo’s false marketing placed users of its “Big Kid” vehicle booster seats at risk for serious injury in side-impact crashes. The suit also alleges that Evenflo marketed the “Big Kid” seat as safe for use by children under 40 pounds, contrary to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, putting children’s safety at risk. The suit seeks damages and injunctive relief requiring Evenflo to “market and promote its Big Kid booster seat lawfully.”
Evenflo Company, Inc. claims to have a century of experience feeding, nurturing, and protecting children. But as the company sought to compete with its rivals in the lucrative booster seat market (seats that eliminate harnesses and strap into a vehicle’s existing restraint system), it systematically ignored or misrepresented the failing results of its own side-impact tests. It marketed the unsafe Big Kid booster seat line to millions of unsuspecting parents and caregivers across the U.S., despite adhering to safer standards across the border in Canada.
Booster seats are appropriate for children who have clearly outgrown the “baby“ seat, which secures a child with an internal harness and vertical straps that fit snugly over the shoulders. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the transition from a harness seat should occur when children “reach the maximum weight or height for that seat. Then a booster will make sure the vehicle’s lap-and-shoulder belt fit properly. The shoulder belt should fit across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not near the face or neck.” Evenflo capitalized on the eagerness of parents to speed up the strap-in procedure, and its packaging and seat labeling promoted the use of the Big Kid seat for children whom the vehicle belt would not fit safely once buckled in.
Evenflo also stated that the seats were side-impact tested, and that the Big Kid booster “meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards and Evenflo’s side-impact standards.” In fact, at the present time there is still no articulated federal standard for side-impact seat safety. Rather, Evenflo invented its own tests but failed to disclose this important fact to consumers. Evenflo’s own tests were not stringent—and the “Big Kid” failed even those tests. The company’s own engineers admit that children subjected to forces evident in its side-impact crash tests would be at risk for catastrophic injury, including the neural severing known as ‘internal decapitation.’ One Evenflo project engineer admitted: “We side-impact-test our seats, but I don’t think we say that we offer any type of side-impact protection.”
To view Evenflo’s internal video demonstrating that side-impact
crashes could lead to severe injuries, please click here.
Complaint – 04/14/2020