Our Illinois personal injury lawyers were concerned to read that Build-A-Bear Workshop, an American retailer of stuffed animals, has recalled approximately 300,000 ‘Colorful Hearts’ teddy bears sold across the United States and Canada. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said of the recall, the bears’ eyes can loosen and fall out which creates a choking hazard for children.
Although no injuries have yet been reported, the risk of harm to children is overwhelming; if even one child chokes to death because of the manufacturing error, it’s one too many.
Illinois product liability lawsuits arise when manufactures and distributors of products disseminate dangerous, defective, or contaminated products to the public, and persons are harmed as a result. The corporations may then be held legally responsible for any injuries caused by the flawed merchandise.
Chicago product liability claims generally fall into three categories: manufacturing defects, design defects, or a failure on the part of the company to warn consumers of the potential danger associated with the product. Manufacturing defects are problems that arise during the production of a product, and usually present in the form of faulty or improperly working items. Design defects are ones that cause injury when a product’s design is inherently dangerous, no matter how well the product is made. Finally, Failure-to-Warn flaws occur when manufacturers distribute a product that is potentially dangerous, but fails to warn purchasers of the possible harm; in cases such as those, if the manufacturer knew about the potential for injury and didn’t warn customers, the company can be held liable for any injuries the consumer incurs.
This situation presents an example of a manufacturing defect – and even worse, it’s the third time this year the stuffed animal company has recalled toys due to safety concerns, reports the Huffington Post.
Build-A-Bear Workshop is an international company founded in 1997 that sells teddy bears and other stuffed animals both online, and through an interactive in-person process in which a stuffed animal is customized and constructed during a customer’s visit to the store. In 2007, Build-A-Bear Workshop reported $474.4 million in sales.
In December of 2011, Build-A-Bear agreed to pay a $6000 civil penalty for failing to report a dangerous defect in a line of toy beach chairs sold between 2001 and 2009, said the Huffington Post. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported “the sharp edges of the chair’s folding wooden frame can pinch, lacerate or amputate a child’s fingertip if the finger is caught between the frame as the chair is folded.” Allegedly the corporation was aware of ten incidents of injury between 2007 and 2009, but did not report the danger of the product to the Commission until March 2009.
Additionally, in August of 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that Build-A-Bear had recalled more than 26,500 ‘Love Hugs Peace Lapel Pins’ because the pins contained excessive lead-based paint.
When companies manufacture products that are marketed to the public, those companies are responsible for ensuring that their merchandise is safe for public use. When consumers are harmed because the products are unsafe, the corporations may be made to pay compensatory damages to put the consumer back in the position they were in before the injury occurred. This includes covering medical and hospital expenses, and in more serious cases, compensating the victim for a loss of normal life or lost wages.
In some cases when the companies’ errors are egregious, they may also be made to pay punitive damages which serve to punish the company and to send a message to others in the same position to be more careful in the future.
The teddy bear in question – the Colorful Hearts Teddy Bear – is approximately 16 inches high, with black plastic eyes. Its body is covered with a multi-colored heart-shaped pattern. The bears were sold at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores and online from April to December of 2011.
Customers can return the bear to any Build-A-Bear store for a coupon for any available stuffed animal. If your child has been harmed by the defectively-manufactured bear, contact an attorney to be apprised of your rights under the law.