4 retailers recall infant recliner after 5 deaths

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PHILADELPHIA -- In response to a request earlier this month by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, four retailers have agreed to voluntarily recall Nap Nanny, a popular infant recliner produced by a Berwyn, Pa., company that has shut down amid reports of five infant deaths.

Amazon.com, Buy Buy Baby, Diapers.com and Toys R Us/Babies R Us have stopped selling the Nap Nanny Generations One and Two and the most recent model, the Chill.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission called for the voluntary recall Dec. 5, the same day it announced that it had taken the unusual step of filing an administrative complaint against the company, Baby Matters LLC, alleging that its recliners contain defects in design, warnings and instructions that pose a "substantial risk of injury and death to infants."

Aside from the fatalities, the agency said it received nearly 100 reports of children hanging out or nearly falling over the sides of the seats, despite usually being placed in a harness.

The first-generation Nap Nanny product was initially recalled in July 2010 after the CPSC learned of one death and 22 reports of near-falls. The agency paired with Baby Matters to offer an $80 discount coupon for owners to buy a newer model with updated instructions and warnings. Since then, according to the CPSC, 70 more reports of close calls have emerged, along with reports of other deaths.

The portable recliners feature a foam base shaped like a bucket seat and a fitted fabric cover.

The recall affects the 55,000 now-discontinued Generation One and Generation Two models sold between 2009 and 2012 as well as the 100,000 Chill models sold in 2011 and after. The products were all priced around $130.

The CPSC is seeking a mandatory recall that provides consumers with a refund.

Baby Matters founder Leslie Gudel, a Philadelphia Phillies reporter and anchor for Comcast SportsNet, shut down the company Nov. 12, anticipating that CPSC was going to ask parents to stop using Nap Nanny and the Chill, and citing financial difficulties arising from months of negotiations with the independent regulatory agency.

Ms. Gudel maintains that the infant seats are safe, and that all the deaths cited by CPSC involved product misuse.

In a note on the company website, she wrote, "The ongoing battle with the CPSC cost us so much money that it forced us out of business.

"The loss of an infant is an unthinkable tragedy, and I am truly heartbroken for the families who have lost a child," she said. "But the fact that infants have died 'while using' the Nap Nanny improperly, such as when used in a crib where the child could suffocate on a crib bumper or a blanket, does not mean our product caused the child's death or is hazardous."

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Ms. Gudel expressed disappointment in the retailers' recalls and vowed to fight the CPSC's actions:

"... [W]hen the Nap Nanny has been used properly, no infant has ever suffered an injury requiring medical attention. The Nap Nanny still benefits thousands of children and families, and we continue to stand behind the product 100 percent.

"The CPSC's decision to join with retailers to recall the product is simply an end-run around its attempt to force a recall on Baby Matters in court -- an effort we are vigorously resisting. We look forward to presenting our case before a judge who will hear all of the facts."

nation - businessnews

Los Angeles Times contributed.


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