Stroller's hinge mechanism severs toddler's fingertip

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Case in Point

December 11, 2012

Stroller's hinge mechanism severs toddler's fingertip 

The plaintiffs alleged strict liability design defect, negligence, and breach of warranty theories against the manufacturer and distributor and the retailer and its parent company. The parties settled for $115,000. Karunakar v. Maclaren USA, Inc.

As Tanuja Karunakar was attempting to open a Maclaren Triumph Canopy Stroller, her 15-month-old daughter, Kalyani Spieckerman, placed her right hand near the stroller’s hinge mechanism. The hinge amputated Kalyani’s ring fingertip. She underwent repair surgery, but the finger is now permanently deformed, and she will require additional surgery to improve its appearance and function. Her past medical expenses exceeded  $10,000.

Kalyani’s father, as guardian on her behalf, and Karunakar, individually, sued Maclaren USA, Inc., which manufactured and distributed the stroller; Babies “R” Us, the retailer; and its parent company, Toys “R” Us-Delaware, Inc., alleging strict liability design defect, negligence, and breach of warranty theories. The plaintiffs contended that although the defendants were aware that the hinge mechanism posed a substantial danger that was not readily apparent, they failed to warn of the danger or timely remove the stroller from the market. The plaintiffs were prepared to show that before the incident, Maclaren was aware of other finger amputations caused by the same or similar model strollers.

Karunakar sought damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress based on having witnessed the injury to her daughter.

In addition, the plaintiffs sought punitive damages, alleging that the defendants acted with willful and reckless disregard for their safety by continuing to sell the stroller without adequate warnings despite knowledge of the danger.

The case was stayed when Maclaren entered bankruptcy proceedings, but the stay was later modified to permit the case to proceed.

The parties settled for $115,000, including $100,000 to Spieckerman and $15,000 to Karunakar. A part of the funds was used to purchase an annuity on the child’s behalf.

Citation: Karunakar v. Maclaren USA, Inc., No. 4:11-cv-05695 (N.D. Cal. June 7, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Larry Edward Cook, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Comment: A month after Kalyani’s injury, Maclaren recalled about 1 million strollers, including the Triumph and eight other models, after receiving reports of at least 12 fingertip amputations.

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