A brand of popular jogging strollers that scores of consumers say have injured them and their children is under federal scrutiny after the manufacturer declined to recall or repair the products.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is suing Britax, a child care product company based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, in administrative court, alleging that certain models of their BOB jogging strollers contain design defects that can leave the detachable front wheel improperly secured, which can cause the stroller to stop abruptly and tip over.
Since January 2012, about 200 consumers have reported to the agency that the strollers' front wheels detached while in use. The design flaw has resulted in at least 97 injuries to children and adults. Of those injuries, 50 involved children.
Britax distributed about 493,000 of the jogging strollers from December 2011 through September 2015. BOB Trailers also distributed a number of the strollers between 1997 and December 2011, when it was acquired by Britax.
Britax denied in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the sudden front wheel detachment is a product design flaw. Instead, it said the wheels come off because of an "improperly secured quick release mechanism and/or jogging with the swivel wheel unlocked."
“At BOB Gear, safety is at our core,” said Sarah Tilton, director of consumer advocacy with Britax, in a statement. “Our consumers are well-informed when it comes to the products they buy, and we trust them to use the product correctly."
As a result of wheels coming off the strollers, children have suffered injuries, including a concussion, injuries to the head and face requiring stitches, dental injuries, contusions, and abrasions, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's complaint.
The complaint notes that adults have reported injuries as well, including torn joints, fractured bones, torn ligaments, contusions, and abrasions as a result of the stroller's front wheel detaching.
One consumer reported in April 2012 that the front wheel of his BOB Ironman Duallie stroller came lose while he was running with his two children. The children hit their heads on the street surface, he said.
After a pediatric emergency room evaluation, the kids checked out with abrasions and bruising. But the consumer was confused about what went wrong with the stroller.
"Not sure how the nut could have come completely off (un-threaded a significant number of turns) on it's [sic] own even if the release lever had accidently [sic] been loosened without noticing the wheel being loose," they wrote. "It's like the nut broke or fell off forcefully causing the wheel axle to fall from the dropouts."
Another consumer said after only one week of use in September 2014, the front wheel popped off the stroller during a jog, "causing my baby to do 2 flips forward."
"Bob customer service was very unsympathetic," they added. "A warning if you own this stroller to double and triple check your wheels EVERY time you go out!"
The commission filed the complaint after Britax declined to recall or repair the strollers, which the commission said pose a substantial risk of injury to children and adults. Britax said while it respects the agency, "we cannot agree to recall a product that is not defective."
It added that all its jogging strollers have been "rigorously tested, often going above and beyond US performance requirements" and meet the agency's wheel retention performance requirements.
In a statement, the agency said, "CPSC staff seeks a finding that the strollers present a substantial product hazard and an order that Britax provide the remedies outlined in the complaint to stop further incidents and injuries to the public."
An administrative law judge will review the complaint and make a decision for commissioners with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to accept or deny. If Britax disagrees with the commissioners' decision, it can appeal in federal court.
In 2011, consumers also complained about defective wheels on a different model of Britax strollers, the Britax Chaperone, which is not named in the 2018 CPSC's complaint.
The agency rarely sues companies over defective products. It last sued a company in 2012, when it found Zen Magnets posed a safety risk to children who would swallow them. The commission ordered a stop sale of the magnets and ordered the company to submit a corrective action plan that includes a refund and notice to the public.
The 17 three-wheeled Britax strollers under scrutiny in the complaint include: 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.