Last week, I wrote about the importance of recognizing dangerous toys and applying common sense when choosing your children’s toys. I mentioned then a boy in Texas who died when he swallowed a flexible dart.
It is important to understand that this is not an isolated danger. When poor toy design undermines parents’ honest attempts to protect their children from hazards, the youngest, most defenseless children are often the ones in danger.
In 2005, Penny Sweet bought her ten year old son two boxes of Magnetix toys for his birthday. Magnetix are a type of building kit, where plastic pieces can be held together by powerful magnets. They are a choking hazard.
Sweet’s younger son, Kenny, was not allowed to be in the room when his older siblings played with the Megnetix. He was less than two years old, and his parents realized that the Magnetix toys were not suited for him.
What they did not expect was that the plastic building pieces might break, spilling tiny, powerful magnets and leaving them hidden in the carpet. There, they waited unnoticed until the toddler found them and swallowed them.
Kenny became ill not long after swallowing the magnets. At first, his parents thought he might have caught a stomach bug. They were concerned, but they did not realize at the time that the magnets had become attached within the child’s intestines, cutting off the circulation of blood. The lack of circulation to parts of Kenny’s lower intestine caused the tissue to die, and allowed gangrene to set in. Kenny died during the night as a result of these unseen injuries.
The injury that killed Kenny was comparable to a gunshot or stab wound.
The Sweet family filed a complaint with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which led to the toy’s manufacturer, Mega Bloks, released a statement in which they claimed to have no knowledge of other such occurrences with their Magnetix product. This statement, however, was a lie.
The truth was, Mega Bloks was aware of several complains that the magnets within this toy could fall out of their plastic casing, and there had already been at least one incidents where another child was dangerously injured as a result of swallowing them.
Even after Kenny’s death, the Mega Bloks company left millions of the toy sets on the shelves for months, before finally voluntarily recalling them in March of 2006. By the time of the recall, the CPSC had reports of 34 injuries to children, nearly half of which had occurred after Kenny Sweet’s death.
The sad fact is that many companies cannot be trusted to keep the best interests of their consumers in mind, and even careful parents cannot prepare or avoid every dangerous situation. By remembering these dangers, parents can keep themselves better informed to protect their children.
If you or someone you love has been injured as the result of a faulty product, it is important to talk to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Call (404) 531-9700 to schedule your free consultation at MLN Law.