Regulators Sue Infant Lounger Company After Two Baby Deaths

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is suing Leachco, a company that makes infant loungers, as the agency believes that Leachco’s products pose suffocation hazards. The CPSC has reported that Leachco’s “Podster” loungers are not safe for sleep and that two infants have suffocated as a result of the products’ designs.

CPSC Commissioner Peter Feldman said that he strongly believes that “consumers deserve transparency about known product hazards.” Yet, Feldman also said that he believes “companies deserve an opportunity to defend themselves in court.”

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In response to both the lawsuit and harsh tone from the CPSC, Leachco argued in a recent statement that the CSPC’s “claims are wrong” since Podsters are not sleep products, but “daytime care” products, and that infants must be supervised when placed in the loungers. Both First Candle, an organization committed to the elimination of sleep-related infant deaths, and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), an organization that promotes the safe use and selection of juvenile products, have made statements in support of Leachco.

Because Leachco refused to voluntarily recall its 180,000 Podsters from the market, the CSPC has continued to issue warnings about the dangers of the products. However, Leachco has not backed down. A Leachco spokesperson recently defended the company’s products in an interview with Newsweek, stating that “both deaths mentioned by the CPSC occurred when the infant loungers were used in either a crib or a bed while other soft items were within reach.” In other words, Leachco claims that the wrongful use of the company’s products is what caused the infant deaths.

In response, the CPSC stated, “The complaint states it is foreseeable caregivers will use the infant lounger for infant sleep and without supervision, and the product is defective.” Hence, the CPSC now aims to require that Leachco warn every customer who has purchased a Podster of its safety risks and offer refunds. CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said that the CPSC will not ignore the risks that Leachco’s products pose and that his job is to protect consumers when companies such as Leachco will not.