Evenflo Misled Parents by Hiding Safety Risks of its Child Booster Seats
As far back as February 2012, an Evenflo safety engineer recommended that company executives consider making a change to the marketing for its booster seats because harnesses, which are only included in infant car seats, were better for securing smaller bodies.
The engineer’s recommendations were to:
- Stop selling the booster seats for children weighing less than 40 pounds
- Modify the marketing to be more in agreement with Canadian regulations and safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Increase the weight and height restrictions in parental safety instructions that accompanied the booster seats
According to ProPublica, a non-profit investigative newsroom, Evenflo’s VP of Marketing and Product Development vetoed these concerns and declined to approve any of the recommendations. The company continued to market and sell these dangerous products without warning about the risks.
What Evenflo’s Side Impact Tests Revealed
The Evenflo website boasts rigorous testing of its booster seats for realistic side-impact collisions, stamping boldly on each seat that it is “SIDE IMPACT TESTED.” However, the ProPublica investigation revealed inadequate testing and an inadequate job of simulating a side-impact collision.
In its investigative article about Evenflo’s push for profitability over safety, ProPublica describes how Evenflo not only misled the public about its testing methods, but also gave them false confidence in a product that clearly demonstrated in its own testing videos that smaller children were at risk for horrific injuries in the booster seats.
How Was Evenflo Able to Pass With Such Sub-Standard Testing?
Nearly two decades ago, Congress tasked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with re-defining and executing side-impact testing rules that would help to improve the safety of all types of child carrier seats in side-impact collisions. However, this request did not materialize for years. In fact, the new national test was not even proposed until 2014. It has still, five years later, never been implemented because federal decision-makers cannot agree with the car industry about a minimal testing standard. Currently, booster and infant car seats only have to pass crash testing for simulated head-on collisions.
With no federal regulations in place for side-impact testing, Evenflo was able to create their own tests. Evenflo tests and tests done by other companies in the car seat industry have been kept secret until now.
While investigating, ProPublica was able to obtain years of the company’s side-impact test videos and other documentation, including sworn depositions from company employees. These records show how Evenflo’s company business goals consistently continued to put profits over the safety of children.
Who Paid the Price for Evenflo’s Negligence?
Ultimately, the victims are those who suffered injuries because of Evenflo’s negligent marketing. Their families also live with the devastation of the physical, emotional and financial damages on a daily basis.
The ProPublica article mentions three specific cases in which young children suffered serious and life-altering injuries while riding in an Evenflo booster seat, including:
- Two separate accidents in which the child was under 40 pounds and suffered internal decapitation – which leaves the victim paralyzed from the neck down and on a ventilator
- Another child, also in a side-impact collision, who suffered a traumatic brain injury
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