Politics may have “Trumped” (pun intended) safety recently when the Consumer Product Commission (CPC), which was recently loaded with appointees of the Trump administration, withdrew a lawsuit it had filed against a company called Britax over the safety of a quick release lever utilized on the company’s BOB stroller model. The Washington Post had an interesting story on this issue here.
Sudden Detachment Of Front Wheels Linked To Quick Release Levers
The story started when the CPC – the government agency charged with making sure that products sold and used in the U.S. are safe for consumers – began receiving reports that the front wheels of Britax BOB strollers were suddenly and unexpectedly becoming detached while the strollers were in use. Since this particular stroller model was marketed to runners, joggers, and active families, a front wheel detaching during these kinds of activities often lead to serious crashes and injuries – to parents and children alike.
The problem seems to have been with the design of the front wheel. When outfitting the stroller, Britax decided to utilize what is called a quick release lever. A quick release lever is a metal skewer with a curved handle that can be loosed or tightened very quickly and easily. Abrupt loosening of the quick release levers seemed to be the reason that the front wheels of BOB strollers were becoming detached.
Cullen & Hemphill Know About Dangerous Quick Release Levers
This kind of danger associated with a quick release lever is no surprise to us here at Cullen & Hemphill. We recently concluded a significant case involving a bicycle crash that occurred after the front wheel of our client’s bicycle became detached without warning, causing him to suffer a catastrophic brain injury (even though he had been wearing his helmet!) Our expert in that case alerted us to the fact that there have long been plenty of alternatives to traditional quick release levers available to bicycle (and presumably stroller) manufacturers. Problems with quick release levers on bicycles were well known prior to 2015, when 18 different bicycle manufacturers – in conjunction with the CPC - recalled more than 2 million bicycles with quick release levers.
Apparently, Britax also recognized the potential danger of the quick release levers because it re-designed the stroller – without a quick release – in 2016. However, Britax has done little about the hundreds of thousands of quick release strollers that it had already released into the stream of commerce before 2016.
When the CPC approached Britax about this, Britax insisted there was nothing wrong with the quick releases on the BOB strollers and refused to take significant action. As a result, the CPC took the rare action of actually filing an administrative lawsuit against Britax in February 2018.
Aren't Governments Supposed To Help Protect Their Citizens?
However, since February 2018, the makeup of the CPC has changed. The Trump administration has appointed several new commissioners, and they now constitute a majority. As soon as the Trump commissioners took over the majority at the CPC, the lawsuit was withdrawn and Britax was given what amounts to something akin to a very light slap on the wrist.
It appears that the only way Britax is going to be convinced to take significant action to cure the problems with its pre-2016 BOB strollers is through injured families successfully pursuing claims through the civil justice system. This is probably not the most efficient or cost-effective way to bring about safety changes, but when large governmental agencies won't protect consumers, consumers have to find help somewhere.
If you have any questions regarding unsafe products, negligently designed products, or particularly bicycles or strollers with problematic quick release levers, please call Winter Park, Florida, personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901.