"Abigail's parents, Tiffany and David Karow, hope the verdict results in regulations and requirements that mattress pads be breathable."
The Law Offices of Carcione, Cattermole, Dolinski, et al. announces an important jury verdict received in Redwood City, Calif., in the late afternoon of March 17, 2016. A San Mateo Superior Court jury has returned an $8 million verdict against Evenflo Co., Inc. for the wrongful death of a seven-month-old infant. Evenflo Company, Inc. is a major manufacturer of baby and juvenile products, including playpens and play yards.
The jury of six men and six women found that the mattress pad used in an Evenflo play yard was defectively designed and suffocated Abigail Karow, who died April 21, 2010, about two days after she was found face down and unresponsive in her play yard.
The jury determined she suffocated because the mattress pad was not breathable and that the baby's breath could not pass through the plastic surface of the mattress pad.
Abigail's death was originally diagnosed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but plaintiffs presented evidence that the death was caused by suffocation from the mattress pad, not SIDS.
Plaintiffs' witnesses included Rachel Moon, M.D., head of the American Academy of Pediatrics' SIDS Task Force. Dr. Moon testified that SIDS has been historically over-diagnosed in the United States and that suffocation is sometimes diagnosed mistakenly as SIDS.
Misdiagnosis as SIDS can arise out of improper investigation of the death scene of the baby, plaintiffs argued.
Most of the time investigators do not think to look at the baby's sleeping surface if it is a surface designed for infant sleeping, such as a play yard, according to forensic pathologist Judy Melinek, M.D. She said that investigators, like most consumers, assume if it is sold for a baby to sleep on, it must be safe for a baby to sleep on.
There is no governmental or industrial regulation in the United States that requires mattress pads on which babies are placed to be air permeable, or breathable. Abigail's parents, Tiffany and David Karow, hope the verdict results in regulations and requirements that mattress pads be breathable. "Such regulation is necessary and should be named "Abby's Law," said Karows' attorney Joseph W. Carcione, Jr. "Requiring that mattress pads allow a baby's breath to pass through the surface of the mattress would be a fitting and important tribute to beautiful Abby."
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