June 2009

The CPSC announced that LaJobi, Inc. is recalling two of its crib models, the Bonvita Hudson crib and the Babi Italia Pinehurst crib.  The lower spring pins on the foot-board and headboard of the cribs can pop off track on the drop-side, causing the dropside to detach from the crib.  When the dropside comes off, a hazardous gap is created between the side of the crib and the mattress, where infants can become entrapped and suffocate or fall out of the cribs.

About 2,900 of the cribs were sold between December 2006 and December 2007, at Babies R Us, Baby Basics, Beautiful Beginnings, Buy Buy Baby, and other children’s products stores nationwide.  The cribs were manufactured in China.

There have been 33 reports of spring pin failure in these cribs, including two reports of children becoming entrapped in the cribs and one report of a child falling from the cribs.  The CPSC says anyone owning one of these cribs should discontinue using the cribs immediately, and contact LaJobi (website is linked here), who will provide a technician to perform installation of a free retrofit hardware kit.

According to a story on Bloomberg.com, asbestos personal injury claimants say the current bankruptcy plan to sell GM’s best assets to a new company may be unconstitutional, if asbestos claimants are left out of the decision making process.  GM had liability for over $600 million in legal claims related to asbestos in both 2007 and 2008.  That amount is not expected to start declining for several years.     

The Hill is reporting that both the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies will be structured to eliminate all future liability for injury claims related to vehicle defects.  This would include physical injuries caused by defective vehicle parts, such as vehicle rollover claims, as well as injury caused by asbestos. 

Victims with current claims are petitioning Congress to build in protections for the injured into the bankruptcy plans for these companies and filing petitions with the Supreme Court to delay the bankruptcies, which are currently on a fast track. 

According to CNN, the Supreme Court issued a stay order on Monday in the Chrysler bankruptcy, preventing the sale of their most valuable assets to a new company, partially owned by Fiat.  An Indiana state pension fund filed the request to delay approval of the bankruptcy because it felt it was not receiving fair treatment under the proposed plan.

EDIT:  CNN is reporting that the Supreme Court approved the Chrysler bankruptcy plan and the Fiat/Chrysler partnership is going through, with Fiat obtaining a 20% stake in the new company, Chrysler Group LLC.

The parties have agreed to a $54 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by Wal-Mart workers in Minnesota, according to a story in the LA Times.  The workers claimed that Wal-Mart cut their break times and allowed employees to work off the clock.  The judge in the case said Wal-Mart violated the law more than 2 million times by denying workers their break time and forcing workers to work off the clock for no pay.  Wal-Mart faced possible fines of $2 billion in the case. 

According to Walmartwatch.com, in late December 2008 Wal-Mart announced it would settle 63 wage and hour lawsuits pending against it, about 86% of the total lawsuits pending against it on this issue.  The website says these suits have uncovered a corporate culture of cutting costs by hiring below the preferred staffing levels and rewarding managers for keeping labor costs down.  The Minnesota lawsuit outlines some of the preferred methods used to keep costs low. 

The settlement is available for 100,000 workers who worked at Wal-Mart stores in Minnesota between the years 1998 and 2008.

Story on Bloomberg.com reportsMattel has agreed with the CPSC to pay a $2.3 million fine for importing toys containing dangerous levels of lead.  The fine relates to 95 of the company’s toy models, including Barbie toys and “Cars” toys. 

The CPSC reported that Mattel imported 900,000 toys between September 2006 and August 2007 that violated lead standards.  These products were imported from China.  As a result of these findings, Mattel recalled more than 21 million toys made in China, after they were found to contain high levels of lead or dangerous designs.

The lead situation is not the only problem related to Chinese imports.  As reported here, there have been recent recalls of dangerous Chinese milk products and medical products.