The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on March 11, 2013 that Chicago-based Kolcraft has agreed to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $400,000. In addition to the monetary penalty, Kolcraft agreed to implement robust changes to its internal control and compliance systems.

CPSC alleges that the firm knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, a defect involving Kolcraft Travelin’ Tot play yards and play yards manufactured by Kolcraft for Carter’s, Sesame Street, Jeep, Contours, Care Bare, and Eric Carle. The play yards were sold nationwide from January 2000 through January 2009 for between $50 and $160. The side rail of the play yards can fail to latch properly and can unlatch unexpectedly when a child pushes against it, posing a fall hazard to children.

Kolcraft began to receive reports of the play yard collapsing almost immediately in 2000 and did its own testing which uncovered the hazard in 2005. From 2000 through July 2009, Kolcraft received at least 350 reports of the play yard collapsing, resulting in 21 injuries. Despite redesigning the product in 2006, Kolcraft did not report that information to CPSC until January 2009. In July 2009, Kolcraft and CPSC recalled one million of the play yards.

This lack of reporting and willingness to keep selling a defective product is even more disturbing in light of Kolcraft’s actions in the 1990’s.  Kolcraft was the manufacturer of the Playskool Travel-Lite portable crib which killed Danny Keysar in 1998.  Again, complaints of the product collapsing and deaths began very shortly after the product entered the market in the early 90’s but wasn’t recalled until 1993.  Danny was the fifth child to die (out of less than 12,000 sold) and another child died in New Jersey months later.  Worse, Kolcraft sold this faulty design to other manufacturers.  In total, at least 20 children have died in portable cribs of the same design.  Kolcraft was never fined for their actions in the Playskool Travel Lite recall.