In 2015, a Jacksonville family filed a product liability action against Evenflo Corporation, the makers of the popular Big Kid Booster seat. The lawsuit alleges that the poorly designed Big Kid Booster that the child was secured in failed to keep her safe during a car crash, resulting in catastrophic injuries.

Case Background

On May 14, 2014, the Back-Cruz family was involved in a motor vehicle crash after another vehicle violated their right of way by turning in front of them in Jacksonville, Florida. Their 5 year old daughter, JBC, who weighed a little over thirty pounds, was ejected from her Evenflo Big Kid Booster Seat during the crash and sustained a catastrophic injury to her cervical spine.

According to the operative complaint, pending in the circuit court of the 4th Judicial Circuit in Duval County, Florida, Evenflo is allegedly negligent and their 2007 Big Kid Booster seat product is defective because it is marketed as safe for toddlers as young as one year old or that weigh as little as thirty pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and other safety agencies have recommended as a best practice for decades that children be kept in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the specific car seat’s manufacturer. For many years, forward facing child restraint systems accommodated children up to forty pounds, but in the past decade safety advancements allow many forward facing child restraint systems for children upwards of 65 to 80 pounds. Only once a child outgrows a forward-facing car seat is a child ready to be put into a booster seat, which is generally considered to be the last step prior to graduating a child to adult seat belt use.

Despite the clear recommendations from the leading authorities that children remain in forward-facing child restraint systems for as long as possible, some child seat manufacturers like Evenflo, in an effort to capture a larger market share, advertise booster seats as safe for smaller children.  Allegedly at the time of purchase, Evenflo did not inform its customers that a better option for smaller children would be a forward-facing car seat with a five point harness. The case alleges that instead, the company invited the Back-Cruz parents to prematurely graduate their small child to a booster seat. Had the Back-Cruz family not been lured by Evenflo’s claims that a booster seat was appropriate for their small child, they would have secured her in a five point harnessed seat which would have prevented the catastrophic injuries she suffered in the crash.

“Our intention is to send a strong message to Evenflo that it must stop marketing its booster seats as safe for smaller children contrary to the more acceptable safety recommendations made by AAP and NHTSA, and thereby prevent inviting parents to needlessly put their children at risk,” states Adam Langino of Cohen Milstein.

The case is referred to as 16-2015-CA-001596, ARILSON OMAR BACK SOMOZA and NIEVES MELINA CRUZ DE BACK, individually, and as Parents, Natural Guardians, and Next Friends of their minor child, JBC v. SANDRA ABBOT, a Florida resident, ANTHONY ABBOT, a foreign resident, and EVENFLO COMPANY, INC., a foreign corporation.

Case Status

A trial date is set for August 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.

For more information contact Adam Langino, Attorney at Cohen Milstein at 561-515-1400.