Mini Blind Recall and Retrofit
Prior to 1994, the pull cords on most blinds came together and were joined by a single tassel. The industry and Consumer Product Safety Commission’s thinking was that children were getting caught in the loop created by the joinder of the pull cords into a single tassel.
Accordingly, from 1994 through 1996, the window covering industry engaged in a voluntary recall/retrofit program whereby it offered tassels to consumers so they might separate the pull cords on miniblinds. However, prior to doing so, the industry was warned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, window covering industry members and private sources that its proposed recall/retrofit program would fail.
The Industry knew the retrofit failed to address injuries and deaths caused by cords becoming wrapped around a child’s neck. Further, studies indicated that cords were likely to become tangled, creating the very condition the retrofit was intended to address. The Industry also knew consumers were likely to tie the cords together to avoid tangling and knotting, again creating the condition the retrofit hoped to eliminate.
Further, the industry was aware of the hidden dangers associated with inner cord strangulation, yet failed to address the issue. More particularly, the pull cord of the blind runs through the head rail, down through the slats of the blind, and is attached to the bottom rail of the blind. When one moves the pull cord downward, the cord running through the slats raises and the blind raise. However, in the down position, the cord lock releases and allows the free flow of the pull cord through the head rail and through the slats of the blind. As such, children are able to pull on the inner cord running through the slats, creating a loop. This loop creates a strangulation hazard, especially for small children.
In 2000, under pressure from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the window covering industry engaged in a second recall/retrofit program aimed at reducing the risk associated with inner cord strangulation. At that time, the industry offered "cord stops" for placement on the pull cord near the head rail of the blind. The thought was that if a child pulled on the inner cord running through the blinds, the cord stop would prevent the loop from becoming large enough to pose a strangulation hazard. Unfortunately, at the time of engaging in such recall, the window covering industry knew the placement of cord stops would not stop inner cord strangulation, it would merely alter the source of the inner cord loop. Further, the industry was relying on an uninformed public to place the stops in the correct location.
When a child pulls on the inner cord, with cord stops in place, the cord still forms a loop; but the source of the loop cord becomes the lifting of the lower rail of the blind, instead of the hanging pull cord. This is known as reverse inner cord strangulation, and the window covering industry was aware of this danger long before implementing their second ineffective recall.
To date, the industry has engaged in two recall/retrofit efforts in an attempt to reduce the risks associated with the cords in window covering products. Both were implemented under pressure from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and both have been ineffective. The number of deaths associated with these products have not decreased, but rather, increased.
As with toys, and cords on children’s clothing, the hazards associated with cord lengths in excess of 7 1/4 inches are well known to the window covering industry, yet it refuses to address this hazard. Such cords become wrapped around the neck of a child or tangled to create a strangulation hazard. Industry and Consumer Product Safety Commission documents reveal that the window covering industry is well aware that the only real solution is to sell cordless products. There are voluminous patents for such cordless products, yet the industry refuses to implement them, primarily out of concerns about competitive disadvantage and the effect on legal liability.
Even more frustrating and indicative of the nonchalant attitude of the window covering ndustry is the manner in which they handled the recall/retrofit. Upon making the decision to recall and retrofit admittedly dangerous and defective blinds, the industry did not pull the known defective blinds from the shelves to avoid them being sold for use in consumers’ homes. Rather, they continued to sell the known dangerous and defective blinds until their stock of merchandise "ran out." In fact, even today, retailers continue to sell blinds that were recalled as part of the 1994-1996 and 2000 recalls. Clearly, such willful neglect is unacceptable and jeopardizes the lives of our children.
If you or a loved one has suffered from the trauma over the loss of a child as a result of a corded window covering, fill out our online form or call us toll free at 1-866-828-4699.
For more information contact the Onder Law Firm.
Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson, LLC