Lawsuit alleges Evenflo’s “Big Kid Booster” car seats were aggressively marketed and sold throughout the U.S. as safe and tested even though the company’s own internal tests showed they provided little to no side-impact protection
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#ConsumerFraud–The national plaintiffs’ law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, along with Kozonis & Klinger, Ltd. and Andrus Wagstaff, PC, announce the filing of a federal fraud and deceptive marketing class action lawsuit in the District of Massachusetts on behalf of a class of plaintiffs who purchased Evenflo’s Big Kid Booster car seats. The complaint alleges that the widely and aggressively marketed seats are unsuitable and unsafe for smaller children and do not significantly reduce accident injury risks. The lawsuit seeks to put an end to Evenflo’s improper marketing and sales tactics that put profits above the safety of American children.
According to multiple reports, Evenflo has known since at least 2008 – and potentially earlier – that its Big Kid Booster Seat is not suitable for children under forty pounds and four years of age, nor does it appreciably reduce the risk of serious injury or death from side-impact collisions. Nevertheless, Evenflo aggressively markets the Big Kid Booster as the “the best way to minimize injuries to your child,” and claims that it will “greatly reduce the risk of serious injury to your child in a crash.” As alleged in the complaint, Evenflo knew, even while it was making representations to consumers about the professed safety of its Big Kid Booster, that the seats were not safe, should not be used by children under forty pounds, and provided little to no side-impact protection.
As further alleged in the complaint, Evenflo misled consumers into believing that the Big Kid Booster were “SIDE IMPACT TESTED” and provided side-impact protection without revealing that those representations were virtually meaningless; Evenflo designed its own side-impact tests and yet failed even those lax and forgiving standards. Recently released video shows that those tests unmistakably demonstrated that a child seated in its booster could be in grave danger in side-impact crashes.
The complaint notes that while Evenflo aggressively marketed the Big Kid Boosters to U.S. consumers as safe for children who weigh as little as 30 pounds, Evenflo told consumers in Canada that a child that weighed less than 40 pounds risked “SERIOUS INJURY or DEATH” using the same Big Kid Booster. Evenflo failed to disclose this material safety information to consumers in the United States. Evenflo’s Big Kid Boosters have been recalled three times in Canada, most recently in 2012, for misrepresenting that the booster seats were safe for children weighing 30 pounds or less.
The complaint further details that Evenflo sews a tag onto its Big Kid Boosters prominently labeling them as “SIDE IMPACT TESTED [sic],” and claimed that its “rigorous test simulates the government side-impact tests conducted for automobiles.” These labels and marketing claims misled customers to believe that the Big Kid Boosters provided side-impact protection without revealing that those representations were baseless.
“When aggressive marketing puts children’s lives at risk, it is manifestly unacceptable,” notes Lieff Cabraser partner Mark P. Chalos, who represents the plaintiffs. “This lawsuit is being filed not just to stop Evenflo’s allegedly deceptive sales and marketing tactics, but to protect children and families across the U.S.”
Evenflo has reportedly settled multiple lawsuits with the families of children severely injured in accidents while using the Big Kid Booster going back to at least 2009. One young girl, then three years old and weighing just under 37 pounds, was paralyzed from the neck down while seated in a Big Kid Booster Seat during a side-impact collision. Two other children of similar weight have also sued Evenflo alleging their Big Kid Booster failed to protect them in side-impact accidents. One reportedly suffered a traumatic brain injury and the other suffered internal decapitation, which is the separation of the spinal column from the skull base.
“If consumers had known the truth about Evenflo’s false safety claims, they would never have purchased or used Evenflo Big Kid Boosters,” notes Gary M. Klinger of Kozonis & Klinger, Ltd., who also represents the plaintiffs. “Instead, Evenflo actively and aggressively marketed the boosters in a way that concealed all of this vital information from consumers — wrong on top of wrong in a shocking threat to children’s lives.”
The lawsuit includes claims for violations of state and federal consumer protection laws, unfair competition laws, fraud, fraudulent concealment, breach of express and implied warranties, misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment, and seeks relief including an order enjoining Evenflo from continuing its unlawful conduct, a permanent injunction requiring Evenflo to recall all Big Kid Booster seats still in use, to cease selling the seats as designed or stop all deceptive labeling and marketing thereof, disgorgement of all ill-gotten gains derived from its unlawful conduct, and actual and compensatory damages.
Andrus Wagstaff partner Kim Dougherty, who also represents the plaintiffs, noted, “This corporation must be held accountable for misleading unknowing parents and causing serious injuries to children nationwide.”
Consumers who have purchased Evenflo Big Kid Booster seats and would like to learn additional information or share their experiences can visit lieffcabraser.com/evenflo.
Mark P. Chalos
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Gary M. Klinger
Kozonis & Klinger, Ltd.