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Couples claim company knew seat was unsafe

By Jessica Priest
Oct. 2, 2012 at 5:02 a.m.


BUMBO INTERNATIONAL RECALL

11 million cribs, bassinets and play yards have been recalled since 2007.

To keep babies safe:

• Never place pillows or thick quilts in a baby's sleep environment.

• Properly assemble cribs.

• Do not use broken cribs or those older than 10 years old.

• Never place a crib near blinds. Babies can strangle themselves with a cord.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

At least three couples have come to Victoria to file grievances against both Bumbo International Trust, a South African-based company that manufactures baby seats, and the Target stores that sell them.

Federal Judge Gregg Costa found earlier that Bumbo was subject to Texas courts' jurisdiction because it has a long-standing relationship with a Conroe distributor, the couples' attorney Liz Cunningham said.

Erica Blythe, of Quinlan, said her 9-month-old daughter's skull was inverted after she pushed her way out of the Bumbo Baby Sitter and fell head first onto the concrete floor. This happened while they were sitting at the kitchen table in November 2010.

Bumbo and Target answered Blythe's complaint on Sept. 21, claiming she "failed to follow the warnings, directions, and instructions for the Bumbo Seat" and therefore isn't entitled to any damages.

They said the seat should be used on the floor and with supervision.

William and Theresa Hess, of Arizona, also filed suit on Sept. 7 against the companies.

They're seeking $1 million for their child, who "suddenly and without warning, flipped out of the Bumbo Babysitter onto the hard floor" while being watched by a babysitter, according to court documents.

Cunningham said she has represented since 2006 dozens of families who she said weren't apprised of the dangers of using the Bumbo Babysitter on elevated surfaces and on the floor.

"And that's the only place Bumbo claims it's now safe to use," she said. "Children can get hurt. They've known that for years, but they've chosen to do nothing."

"Due to the pending litigation, Target cannot comment," Target spokesperson Jessica Deede said in regard to Hess' case.

The Bumbo Babysitter was recalled for repair Aug. 15. Consumers are now asked to install a free repair kit, which includes a restraint belt with a warning label, installation instructions, safe use instructions and a new warning sticker.

Since October 2007, at least 50 incidents have occurred where babies fell from a Bumbo Babysitter while using it on a raised surface. Nineteen of those reported skull fractures, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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