Infant sling maker agrees to $8 million settlement in suffocation death lawsuit

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by Eric Pearson

In 2009, Anthoinette Medley was carrying her twin 7-and-a-half-week-old sons in two separate SlingRiders, a shoulder-sling infant carrier marketed by Infantino LLC. She had purchased one of the infant slings at K-Mart and one at Wal-Mart. She was travelling by bus and then by trolley with her sons to an appointment in Philadelphia’s City Center. Along the way, Ms. Medley noticed several drops of blood on her son Nelsir’s bib. After she was unable to awaken him, he was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Medley sued Infantino LLC, alleging that the flawed design of the SlingRider caused her son’s suffocation death. Numerous complaints had been made that the sling had a capacity to position an infant in a C-shape, a chin-to-chest position that limits the ability to breathe. After the death of Medley’s son, on March 24, 2010, the CPSC announced an Infantino recall of all Infantino SlingRider and Wendy Bellissimo infant slings.

The lawsuit alleged that “the unsafe design of the Infantino SlingRider created a potentially lethal impairment of an infant’s ability to breathe,” and that, after recalling the product, the company admitted that the SlingRider presented a “risk of suffocation” when used with infants younger than 4 months. The lawsuit also alleged that Infantino had not tested the SlingRider for safety before marketing and selling it, and that Infantino falsely claimed compliance with industry standards.

According to court records, Medley claims the SlingRider is also responsible for the deaths of three other babies. Medley and the company have agreed to settle her lawsuit for $8 million.

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