N.D. Family Sues Child Safety Seat Manufacturer over Infant’s Death

September 19, 2007

The North Dakota family of a 7-month-old boy killed in a rollover two years ago says a defective child safety seat caused the child to be ejected from the vehicle.

Relatives of Isaac Eslinger are suing Ohio-based infant equipment manufacturer Evenflo Co. in federal court for at least $75,000. The baby died after the van in which he was riding went into a ditch and overturned.

Phone and e-mail messages to Evenflo officials seeking comment on Monday (Sept. 10) were not returned. The company is based in Piqua, Ohio.

The rollover happened in September 2005. Authorities said the boy’s mother was driving on North Dakota Highway 6 when she swerved into the opposite lane, overcorrected and lost control of the vehicle.

The lawsuit filed by the baby’s family said the child was “securely belted” into the child safety seat and that the seat was properly installed in the family’s van. The lawsuit alleges Evenflo failed to provide a “safe and appropriate child safety seat.”

The lawsuit comes less than two months after a jury ordered Evenflo to pay $10.4 million to the parents of a 4-month-old Montana boy who died of head injuries in a car crash. The award included $3.7 million in punitive damages. That case involved an “On My Way” child seat, while the North Dakota case involves a child seat with the name “Discovery.”

Attorneys for the boy’s parents in the Montana case said Evenflo has lost at least three cases over its car seats, for a total of $19.6 million. Company officials said they would appeal the Montana verdict, saying the boy died in an “extraordinary car accident” and they did not believe the product was defective.

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