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From Products Liability Law Daily, December 2, 2014

NHTSA to investigate Graco’s handling of largest child seat recall in U.S. history

By Joe Bichl

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into the timeliness of Graco Children’s Products, Inc.’s, reporting of a safety defect in child seats. The buckles on the seats may become stuck and not unlatch. In such cases, the company warned, it may be difficult to remove the child from the restraint, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a vehicle crash, fire, or other emergency.

Graco eventually recalled over six million defective car seats earlier this year, the largest child seat recall in U.S. history, according to a NHTSA news release.

Under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, once a manufacturer knows or should reasonably know that motor vehicle equipment contains a safety defect, the manufacturer has a maximum of five business days to notify the agency. NHTSA’s investigation will evaluate whether Graco violated the law.

“There is no excuse for delaying a recall to address any safety related defect,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. “If Graco delayed in protecting children and infants from this defect, we will hold them accountable.”

If Graco’s was untimely in reporting the defect, according to the agency, the manufacturer could be fined up to $35 million in civil penalties. Under NHTSA’s four-year reauthorization measure, the agency has proposed to increase the cap on fines from $35 million to $300 million.

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