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Monday February 19, 2018

CPSC Members Split in Vote to Sue Britax to Recall Jogging Strollers

CPSC members voted 3-1 to begin litigation against Britax Child Safety over wheel detachments on 17 models of B.O.B. jogging strollers. The single count February 16 complaint ( asserts that there is a design defect that presents a substantial product hazard and that the company needs to conduct a recall. CPSC is asking that Britax be directed to offer refunds as the remedy.


CPSC alleges that there is an injury pattern in which suddenly wheel-less front forks "dig into the ground and cause the stroller to stop abruptly and tip over." The agency says it knows of about 200 incidents with 97 injuries, 50 of them to children.


CPSC alleges that the design of the B.O.B. strollers "allows consumers to attach the front wheel and engage the [quick release] in a manner that indicates that the wheel is secured to the fork, when it is not." The focus is a quick release mechanism, which CPSC alleges "can fail to secure the front wheel to the fork, allowing the front wheel to detach suddenly during use."


The complaint notes the importation of 493,000 units from sometime in 1997 to December 2011.


The case involves a frequent theme in stalled CPSC recall negotiations – responsible parties. B.O.B. Trailers was the distributor. Britax acquired it in October 2011, and the two merged around December 2011. CPSC asserts, "As successor to B.O.B., [Britax] is responsible for any remedial action or other re¬lief ordered."


The models involved are Ironman, Ironman Duallie, Revolution, Revolution CE, Revolution Flex, Revolution Flex Duallie, Revolution Pro, Revolution Pro Duallie, Revolution SE, Revolution SE Demo, Revolution SE Duallie, Revolution SE Duallie Plus, Revolution SE Plus, Sport Utility Stroller, Stroller Strides, Stroller Strides Duallie, and SUS Duallie.


The company, on its BOBgear website, issued a statement ( countering CPSC's allegations. It included:

"Today, BOB Gear by Britax announced that it declined the CPSC’s request to recall BOB jogging strollers in the U.S. made before September 2015. There is no defect in these products. They are safe when used as instructed. The quick release, which is used to secure the removable front wheel to the frame, is a widely-used feature. It has a history stretching back decades – first in bicycles and then in strollers. While we respect the CPSC and its mission, we cannot agree to recall a product that is not defective…"
"…Front wheel detachments are not due to any defect in the product design; they involve an improperly secured quick release mechanism and/or jogging with the swivel wheel unlocked. Detailed instructions and videos on securing the quick release and locking the front wheel are available on the BOB gear website and in the User Guide."

Interestingly, the issue of wheel detachments and quick release failures on jogging strollers currently is the focus of an ASTM F15.17 working group. Last month (PSL, 1/22/18), the panel discussed requiring some sort of indicators – visual or audible – to show if components are properly tight. However, given that such strollers undergo more stress during use than do traditional designs, there could be challenges anticipating real world variables like typical running speeds, terrain, road conditions, and tire pressure.