Over the years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has educated consumers on dangerous products and aims to protect the public from risks of injury and death. Unfortunately, faulty products have led to many injuries and deaths throughout history.
As a personal injury lawyer who defends those injured due to product defects and product liability, we have seen our fair share of injuries caused by this negligence.
Here are 10 of the biggest product recalls in U.S. history.
Easy-bake ovens have always sparked imagination and taught early baking skills to children. However, one lesson Easy Bake-Ovens taught a little too well was, don’t get burned by the oven.
Almost 1 million Easy-Bake Ovens were recalled in February 2007 due to entrapment and burn hazards.
There were numerous reports of children getting their hands or fingers stuck in the ovens’ openings.
Hasbro received 29 reports of children getting hands or fingers stuck, and 5 of them resulted in burns.
The CPSC warned parents to take the recalled ovens away from children under the age of 8.
Later that year, Hasbro issued a second recall for the same reason.
At this point, they had received over 200 complaints of children getting their hands or fingers stuck, and 77 of them reported burn injuries. Hasbro offered to pre-pay for customers to ship the oven back to them and issued a $32 voucher which could be used on other Hasbro products.
In 1999, the FDA approved a new arthritis drug called Vioxx, manufactured by the large pharmaceutical company, Merck.
Shortly after the FDA approved Vioxx, studies showed that 79 out of 4,000 patients who had taken Vioxx experienced heart problems or died. This was almost double the amount compared to the other drug in the study.
Over the years, Merck continued to see data linking Vioxx to heart attacks.
In 2003, Vioxx brought in $2.5 billion in sales.
The following year though, Merck issued a voluntary worldwide recall on Vioxx. By this time, Merck had paid out almost $5 billion to settle lawsuits regarding patients who were either injured or killed by the drug.
Many people criticized Merck for not pursuing and researching the drug’s data more aggressively.
Not being able to stop a car is a driver’s worst nightmare.
Car accidents are one of the most feared scenarios for most and having to worry about your car malfunctioning is even more terrifying.
In November 2009, Toyota issued a recall of over 5.3 million cars that were believed to have ill-fitting floor mats that trapped gas pedals.
Only a short three months later, Toyota issued another 4.1 million car recall due to faulty gas pedals.
Originally, the company was only going to recall the driver-side floor mats but federal regulators pushed for more.
The extent of Toyota’s recall was so large that nearly equaled the same amount of vehicles sold by all U.S. car makers combined.
Back in 1982, 7 people in the Chicago area died after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol.
The pain relievers were somehow laced with potassium cyanide. When the Tylenol link was discovered, urgent warnings from the police were broadcasted throughout Chicago neighborhoods.
The crime caused multiple instances of copycats the following month. Police had almost 3oo reports of products that had been tampered with, including Excedrin laced with mercuric chloride and pins in Halloween candy.
One good thing did come from the incident though. Because the pills were tampered with, the FDA issued new tamper-proof seals for all over the counter drugs.
Johnson & Johnson spent more than $100 million recalling all Tylenol from store shelves. Since then, Johnson & Johnson has had numerous product recalls, but none have been to the same extent as the “Chicago Tylenol Murders.”
An estimated 1 million Infantino SlingRider and Wendy Bellissimo baby slings were recalled in the U.S. in 2010, with an additional 15,000 recalled in Canada.
The baby slings were linked to 3 infant deaths and the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning that the slings posed a suffocation risk.
The slings were designed to hold babies close to their mother’s chest, but the fabric would then press against the baby’s nose or mouth.
Infatino told consumers to stop using the SlingRider and Wendy Bellissino baby slings and offered a free replacement sling to customers.
In 2000 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration linked 46 deaths and hundreds of car accident injuries to faulty tread of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. tires.
Two days later, Bridgestone/Firestone recalled 6.5 million tires of various models.
The tread on the tires tended to peel off, creating a high failure rate. When the tires would fail, it would cause vehicles to roll over, especially SUVS and trucks.
There ended up being 175 deaths of over 700 injuries due to the faulty tires.
Bridgestone/Firestone faced a federal investigation and 50 lawsuits. Bridgestone/Firestone went on the blame the design of the Ford Explorer itself for it’s likelihood to tip over, not just the Wilderness AT tires.
Firestone ended up terminating its almost century long relationship with Ford.
If you were born before the 2000s you probably remember having a bean bag chair.
It was the cool chair to have for watching TV and playing video games.
The popularity of bean bag chairs have since dropped, many parents saw them as a hassle to clean up when the beans poured out after flopping down too hard out.
Another cause for the decline in bean bag chairs was when Ace Bayou Corp recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs after two children died.
Sadly, a 3 year old girl from KT and a 13 year old boy from TX died from suffocation. However, they weren’t found under the bags. The zippers on the chairs could be opened and children could climb inside, get trapped, and suffocate or choke on the chair’s foam beads.
Now, the standard with bean bags chairs is that they are non-refillable. They are closed and no longer have zippers. Following the recall, Ace Bayou released a free repair kit so parents could disable the zippers.
High chairs are supposed to be a place where parents can safely set their children to enjoy a meal. This wasn’t the case with Graco’s Harmony High Chairs.
Graco received over 460 reports of the high chair tipping over.
Parents were complaining that the screws that held the front legs would loosen and the plastic bracket on the back legs would crack.
There were 24 cases where children were injured when the chair tipped over including, arm fractures, cuts, bumps on the head, and more.
Graco’s ended up recalling about 1.2 high chairs.
Surprisingly enough though, the substantial recall did not seem to greatly affect Graco’s share price.
In 2008 there was a recall involving 600,000 drop side cribs due to an entrapment and suffocation hazard to infants and toddlers.
There were issues with the crib’s hardware.
The drop side could come off the tracks, leading it to partially or fully detach. When the drop side detached, it created a gap that could entrap and suffocate infants and toddlers.
Previous to this recall, Simplicity recalled a different crib model in 2007.
The cribs recalled in 2008 were supposed to have the “newer” style of plastic hardware, but we see how that turned out.
In 2009, an infant became entrapped between the drop side and crib mattress and suffocated.
25 other incidents where the drop side broke off were also reported, but luckily none of those resulted in injuries.
Simplicity recalled 400,000 drop side cribs, in addition to the 600,000 the year before.
The infamous Ford Cruise Control product recall was the largest recall for the company, due to the extent of vehicles it involved.
The cruise control deactivation switches would overheat, creating a fire hazard, even when cars were off.
Not only would they over heat, but when they would start to fail , the vehicle would have malfunctioning cruise control and brakes. Vehicle’s brake lights would go on and off and have difficulty shifting out of park.
The faulty cruise control deactivation switches caused multiple deaths and house fires.
Ford gave the suggestion that people shouldn’t park their cars in garages, or near homes.
Real helpful, right?
The recall included a lengthy list of cars including Ford Explorer, Ford F-Series Super Duty Trucks, Ford Ranger, F35 motor homes, and more.
This particular recall included an 18-month federal investigation and in total involved 8 separate recalls over the course of 10 years.
When you research famous product recalls, you see certain companies have had multiple recalls over time. Some don’t really ever survive after a recall, their stock prices plummet. Others, such as Hasbro, continue to be a leader in their industry.
Fortunately, there are stricter product regulations across all industries dedicated to product safety. We are lucky to live in a time where product safety information is much more accessible.