The family of a child who died in a Winnie the Pooh bassinet has sued the Walt Disney Co., alleging the company allowed sales of the bassinets despite a flawed design that had been linked to another baby’s death.
The bassinet had a drop-down side for easy access, but the design created a gap where babies could slide through and hang to death. The child was 6 months old when she was strangled.
Shortly after the child’s death, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission directed retailers to stop selling the bassinets, which were manufactured by Simplicity Inc. Disney’s consumer products division licensed its Winnie the Pooh name and image to Simplicity.
The suit, filed in California state court in Los Angeles, raises questions about a common practice in the nursery products industry: Are companies that license their names and characters to other manufacturers responsible when those products turn out to be deadly?
California courts have found that a licensor can be held liable for a defective product.
The functional and structural design as well as the manufacture and sale of Simplicity bassinets were solely the responsibility of Simplicity Inc., as was the need that its product be in compliance with legal and industry safety standards, according to Disney.
Simplicity collapsed earlier this year in the wake of major crib recalls and babies’ deaths.
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