Class-action suits filed

VANCOUVER — Class-action lawsuits have been filed across Canada on behalf of consumers who bought drop-side cribs now subject to a massive North American recall.

VANCOUVER — Class-action lawsuits have been filed across Canada on behalf of consumers who bought drop-side cribs now subject to a massive North American recall.

The action, filed in six provinces so far, seeks a full refund for consumers who bought the cribs manufactured by Stork Craft Manufacturing of Richmond, B.C.

The voluntary recall — issued by Health Canada and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission — tells consumers to order a kit from Stork Craft that fixes the cribs so the drop-side part stays put. Tony Merchant, whose firm Merchant Law Group launched the class actions, said consumers don’t want the kit, they want their money back.

“I haven’t talked to a single solitary person who is prepared to go on using this crib, whether they tinker with it or make repairs or not, ” Merchant said in an interview Wednesday.

“People say, I am not going to gamble on killing or injuring my child.”

The drop-side cribs, which Stork Craft stopped making last month due to mounting safety concerns, range in price from about $200 to $500.

Merchant said suits have been filed in every province from B.C. to Quebec and will be filed in Atlantic Canada on Thursday.

He said about 1,000 consumers have signed on so far, but he expects hundreds more to join in.

Merchant is also talking to a U.S. law firm about joining the suit to make it North America-wide.

The suits also name Fisher-Price, which sold some of the cribs under its banner, and retailers Sears and Wal-Mart. Both retailers have stopped selling the cribs.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said Wednesday the company doesn’t comment on cases before the court. Sears also declined comment.

The recall covers more than 2.1 million cribs manufactured between January 1993 and October 2009. It comes after at least 15 infants, including three in Canada, were trapped in the drop-side part of the product.

In the U.S., four deaths have been linked to the cribs, the latest in May of this year.

Merchant believes the number of accidents is likely higher, but that many parents blamed themselves for any mishaps and didn’t report them.

Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, agreed that consumers should be refunded for the product.

“If they make a product that is faulty, they should recall it fully,” Cran said. He also said the onus should not be on parents to fix the product.

Cran called on Ottawa to push through Bill C-6, which is legislation now before the Senate that would tighten laws around recalls.

The new bill, an update to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, would give the government power to issue a mandatory recall of products found to be unsafe.

“That is the legislation that will give us some teeth,” Cran said.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in the House of Commons the bill is being held up by Liberal senators.

“We recognize the current legislation is over 40 years old. It is outdated, ” Aglukkaq said. “That is why we are encouraging the Liberal senators to stop delaying the passage of that legislation so that we can protect the health and safety of Canadians.”

When asked why the government didn’t act sooner on the concerns about drop-side cribs, Aglukkaq also said she found out about the recall the same day it was issued.

Stork Craft president and chief executive Jim Moore said Tuesday his products are safe if used properly.

Moore said the four U.S. deaths happened over the past nine years, and were found to be a result of improper use.

The recall is the second issued this year for Stork Craft, which has been making drop-side cribs since 1953.

In January, the company recalled about 535,000 cribs due to faulty metal support brackets that could crack and break, causing the mattress to collapse. The U.S. commission said at the time that it knew of 10 incidents in which one or more mattress support brackets broke.

The latest recall does not involve any cribs with metal rod drop-side hardware.

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