One of the main arguments product and auto manufacturers make in product liability cases is that their product “complies with federal safety standards.” This article in the New York Times tells the tale of how the recall of more than 1 million defective Evenflo Discovery car seats came about. It’s frightening to see that government officials discovered, quite by accident, that this brand of car seats did nothing to protect infants in a side impact crash.
That’s why the government insisted on a recall despite the fact that there is no standard that specifies how well such seats must protect children in a side impact auto accident. Apparently, this type of a recall is unprecedented. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as it turned out, was working on developing side-impact regulations and was conducting some tests as part of that research.
That’s when they saw to their utter horror that when a ram struck the vehicle’s side at 38.5 miles an hour, the portion of the seat in which the infant would be strapped, broke free of the base and was thrown around in the interior. Federal officials described the failure as “catastrophic” and immediately asked Evenflo to recall and stop production of these car seats, which the car seat maker did.
Continue reading →