A FEDERAL consumer-productsafety agency filed an administrative complaint Wednesday against Baby Matters, a manufacturer of infant furniture owned by Comcast SportsNet reporter Leslie Gudel.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said that five infants have died since 2010 while using the Nap Nanny, a portable, high-density foam chair made by Baby Matters. The commission said that it has received more than 70 additional incident reports of children nearly falling out of the recliner.
The complaint alleges that the Nap Nanny Generation One and Two and Chill models contain design defects posing substantial risk of injury and death to infants.
Gudel, a Phillies reporter and anchor for Comcast SportsNet, said that the Berwyn-based company does not believe that the complaint has merit and that the product is not a hazard when used correctly.
"The loss of an infant is an unthinkable tragedy, and I am truly heartbroken for the families who have lost a child," Gudel said in the statement. "But the fact that infants have died while using the Nap Nanny improperly, such as when used in a crib where the child could suffocate on a crib bumper or a blanket, does not mean our product caused the child's death or is hazardous."
CPSC filed the administrative complaint after discussions with the company failed to result in an adequate recall plan to address the hazards. The lawsuit orders that Baby Matters notify the public of the defect and offer consumers full refunds.
In July 2010, after one death had been linked to the Nap Nanny, Baby Matters participated in a voluntary recall that announced improved instructions and warnings, and also provided Generation One owners with an $80 coupon to upgrade to a newer model.
Despite the improvements to the warnings and instructions, the complaint alleges that two additional deaths were reported following the recall.
Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving the safety of products, said that the Nap Nanny does not fit any federal safety standards, and therefore was never tested to one.
"I don't think we can fault the sleep-deprived parents," Cowles said. "If the product was safe, it would've been safe in the crib.
"If you do have one of these, don't put your baby to sleep in it tonight."