Family sues car seat manufacturer after child is injured in crash
Associated Press

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -A family filed a lawsuit against a car seat manufacturer, claiming that a defective design contributed to the injuries their 2-year-old boy received in a vehicle crash.

The suit, filed last week in Riverside County Superior Court in Indio, maintains that Cosco Inc. was aware its Grand Explorer Shield Booster Car Seat would not adequately protect children from serious injury or death.

Despite that knowledge, the company continued to release the car booster seat even though there was evidence of problems, the suit alleges.

The suit was filed on behalf of Isaiah Rapan, who was injured Sept. 27 while riding in a 1986 Jeep Cherokee along with his 4-year-old brother and his father. Their vehicle was hit by a truck. The father and the older boy were not injured, but Isaiah, who was strapped into the car seat, was found unconscious. He was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and then to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital in Loma Linda where he remained in a coma for a month.

"He has a spinal cord injury, which has left him a ventilator- dependent quadriplegic," according to Christine Spagnoli, the attorney representing the family. She said the boy came home about a month ago. "He is going to need around-the-clock care."

Company spokeswoman Sheila Hershow said the car seat in question has a better safety record than many other car booster seats and has repeatedly passed tests by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. About 10 million Grand Explorer and Explorer car seats have been sold.

Critics say the booster seat, which uses a padded shield across the chest instead of a shoulder harness, allows too much movement of the child's head and neck during an accident. A number of groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have said the booster seat should not be used for children weighing less than pounds.

Tests commissioned by the company, which also produces shoulder-harness safety seats, show an acceptable degree of head movement during a crash, Hershow said.

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