Nearly 100 injuries including kid concussions and adult broken bones from a front-wheel detachment means there’s a problem with 493,000 BOB jogging strollers, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Stroller seller Britax says the strollers use proven devices and malfunctions are at the user end.
That’s the synopsis of why the federal agency took the rare step of filing a legal complaint this week to force a recall by Britax. An administrative law judge will rule on the complaint.
Normal interaction between the CPSC and companies starts with the agency bringing a problem to a company’s attention. A discussion follows after which the company issues a voluntary recall, such as Britax’s February 2017 recall of 700,000 car seat-stroller combinations over a car seat mount problem.
This time, Britax and the consumer agency disagreed on why about 200 consumers have reported front-wheel detachments while using these 2011-2015 models of BOB jogging strollers: 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 design of the Strollers allows a consumer to operate the stroller without the front wheel being secured correctly,” the complaint says.
Parents and grandparents, the complaint claims, can attach the front wheel and clamp down the quick release lever “in a manner that indicates that the wheel is secured to the (front) fork, when it is not.”
The complaint also says the quick release can look properly engaged to a user, who will discover the mistake at the inopportune moment the wheel comes off of the stroller. If that happens while moving, the front fork can jam into the sidewalk/road and physics takes over — the weight of the pushing adult suddenly against the stroller throws the stroller forward or to the side while the adult struggles to regain balance.
The CPSC says 200 such wheel detachments have resulted in 97 injuries — 50 to children including concussions, head and face wounds requiring stitches, messed up teeth, contusions and abrasions and 47 to adults, including a torn labrum, fractured bones and torn ligaments.
Britax issued a statement Friday that said, “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.”
The complaint says the instructions aren’t adequate and the warning on the strollers sold after June 2013 are on a removable hang tag, thus gone after the stroller’s first use.
“There is no defect in these products,” Britax’s statement says. “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.”