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Defective Toy Stories: When playtime turns into horror

Defective Toy Stories: When playtime turns into horror

In the Pixar animated film Toy Story, Buzz, Woody, and the rest of the toy gang come to life when their owner Andy is not looking. The film and its sequels are heartwarming tales of toys’ journey as a giver of joy to little kids. Unlike Buzz and his team of fellow trinkets, these defective playthings caused pain, personal injury lawsuits, and emotional scars to kids and their parents.

Self-immolating toy truck scars two-year-old

Toy trucks can enhance physical and cognitive development in children. In fact, according to child psychologists, playing with car-related toys offers kids much-needed variety. Play-riding toy vehicles encourage children to conjure different scenarios, firing up their imagination. A self-immolating toy truck, however, is an obvious exception.

In 2012, two-year-old Wyatt Buckley from Washington, D.C. sustained injuries caused by a battery-operated toy truck that spontaneously burst into flames while he was riding it at home. The defective toy truck burned more than 50% of his body, subjecting him to multiple surgeries and other medical treatments.

Wyatt’s parents Marlon and Heather Buckley sued the toy company Peg Perego USA Inc for the toy’s manufacturing defects. Peg Perego, however, claimed that their toys’ materials could not have suddenly caught fire. The company was quite confident that the accident was caused by factors outside their control.

The Buckleys sought damages of around $75,000 for their son’s injuries as well as for punitive damages. The case was settled for an undisclosed sum.

Why certain Mattel toys should come with a “Play at your own risk” warning sign

Kids don’t care about where their toys were made as long as they’re fun to play with, but many parents do. After the widely reported case involving toy-maker Mattel Inc’s lead-infested toys in 2007, parents had even more reason to become suspicious of their children’s playthings, specifically if they were made in China.

In 2007, California Attorney General sued Mattel Inc and toy retailers like Walmart, Costco, and Toys “R” Us for manufacturing and selling toys containing a dangerous amount of lead and other poisonous materials. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ordered the recall of millions of Mattel toys manufactured in China, including Sarge toy vehicles (from Mattel’s CARS product line), Barbie accessories, Fisher-Price items, and Winnie the Pooh playsets, among others.

It was also reported that the company’s contractors were cutting corners to save on production costs. This led to a price increase which went toward ensuring product safety. For parents, the increase in costs meant an additional burden for their kids to enjoy Barbie, Thomas & Friends, and Dora the Explorer toys and accessories. For Mattel and the big retailers, it was just another day at the legal department offices.

Cabbage Patch Kids doll chews nine-year-old girl’s hair

The holidays are the perfect time to give your tots and teens all the toys they want. But, take note: the CPSC reported that around 217,000 kids are taken to the hospital emergency rooms to get treated for toy-related injuries.

The idea that dolls could perform human acts such as eating, chewing, and swallowing food used to be a dream. It wasn’t until the introduction of the Cabbage Patch Kids Snacktime Kids doll that this dream turned into reality. Alas, said dolls seemed to have taken a life of their own beyond what their creators have imagined.

In 1996, the Cabbage Patch Kids Snacktime Kids dolls were recalled from stores due to an alleged defect that caused said doll type to trap kids’ hair and fingers in its mouth while being fed plastic food. In one horrifying case, a doll gnawed at nine-year-old Jessica Walls’ hair while she was playing with it just four days after Christmas.

Little Jessica’s parents sued Mattel and Walmart (where they bought the doll) for $25.5 million in damages for “emotional and mental injuries.” What happened to little Jessica was certainly less Toy Story and more Child’s Play.

When toys bring pain instead of joy, don’t take it up with Santa Claus — consult an injury lawyer. For personal injury cases in Washington state, get in touch with Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams.