The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed suit last week against Britax Child Safety, Inc., the company that manufacture BOB jogging strollers, because the company has refused to issue a recall on the stroller, even though there have been have at least 200 complaints from the public about the product since 2o12.
The CPSC alleges that the design of the BOB jogging stroller contained a dropout fork assembly that enables consumers to quickly detach and remove the front wheel. This “ quick release” mechanism was defective, however, because the consumer was able to operate the product without properly securing the attachment of the front wheel. The complaint also maintained that consumers were unable to determine whether the quick-release mechanism was properly secured to the front wheel. As a result, CPSC officials maintain that this design defect means the front wheel on the stroller can detach at the absolute wrong moment, resulting in a high risk of injury for the child in the stroller and the jogger pushing the stroller. This is because, when the front wheel detaches, the front fork can dig into the ground, resulting in the stroller stopping and sometimes flipping over.
Which Strollers Are Involved?
Because of that, according to the CPSC complaint, “the defect creates a substantial risk of injury.” To date, at least 50 injured children and 47 injured adults have been injured in accidents related directly to this particular defect in the strollers, which sold for between $400 and $650. The injuries have ranged widely, and they have included broken bones and concussions. The models involved in this action include the Ironman, Ironman Duallie, Revolution, Revolution CE, Revolution Flex, Revolution Flex Duallie, Revolution Pro, Revolution Pro Duallie, Revolution SE, Revolution SE Demo, Revolution SE Duallie, Revolution SE Duallie Plus, Revolution SE Plus, Sport Utility Stroller, Stroller Strides, Stroller Strides Duallie, and SUS Duallie. They were all manufactured and sold between December 2011 and September 2015.
The CPSC filed the administrative complaint against Britax Child Safety, Inc. because they have recommended the company issue a recall and Britax officials have thus far refused. The CPSC is seeking an order finding that the BOB strollers present a substantial product hazard and that would require Britax to stop distributing the strollers, as well as to notify the public of the alleged defect, and to offer consumers repairs, replacements or refunds. For its part, Britax released a statement, saying, “There is no defect in these products. They are safe when used as instructed.” The company also claimed that front wheel detachments are caused by consumers, who are improperly securing quick release mechanisms and unlocked swivel wheels while they are jogging.
The company’s statement also noted, “At BOB Gear, safety is at our core. Everything we do is driven with a focus on a commitment to safety. All BOB jogging strollers have been rigorously tested, often going above and beyond US performance requirements. They comply with the industry standards and government regulations, including meeting the wheel retention performance requirement (ASTM), adopted unanimously by the CPSC in 2014. Our consumers are well-informed when it comes to the products they buy, and we trust them to use the product correctly.” The company also noted that an instructional video demonstrating the proper front wheel installation was available on the company’s website, as was a video showing how to lock the swivel wheel.
CPSC Lawsuits are Unusual
In all, according to the CPSC, Britax imported, distributed and sold more than 493,000 single- and double-occupant BOB jogging strollers and that an undetermined number of jogging strollers were distributed by BOB prior to Britax’s acquisition of the company in 2o11. This is not the first time Britax has had to deal with the CPSC, as they issued a recall of strollers in 2017 and infant car seats in 2016. Some are suggesting that the fact that Britax conducted two previous recalls for other products within the last couple years strongly suggests that the company feels they are being truthful about their claim that there are no defects associated with these strollers. That possibility has not deterred the CPSC from moving forward in their lawsuit.
The issue of wheel detachments and quick release failures on jogging strollers currently is the focus of an ASTM F15.17 working group and last month, the panel discussed possible recommendations to require the use of some sort of audible or visual indicators to show if the components are properly tight. They also took into account that jogging strollers undergo far more stress during their use than traditional strollers, which means they could be subject to greater challenges in accounting for running speeds, terrain, road conditions and other factors when determining proper designs.
For the CSPC to take the step of filing suit to order a recall is very unusual and relatively extreme. The last time they did this was in 2012, when the agency sued Zen Magnets after that company failed to recall high-powered magnets that, if swallowed, were able to attract through the intestinal wall if swallowed, which often led to tissue injury, sepsis and potentially death.