A federal district court has denied the summary judgment motion filed by a pediatrician sued for the death of an infant who allegedly suffocated in a defective baby sling that the pediatrician promoted in his baby-care book and to which the pediatrician held an exclusive licensing agreement. Heneghan v. Crown Crafts Infant Prods., Inc., No. C10-05908RJB (U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. Wash., decision entered April 13, 2012).  

The pediatrician claimed that he was not a “product seller” or “manufacturer” of the baby sling under the Washington product liability statute; the plaintiffs contended that he could be deemed a product seller and manufacturer due to his involvement in its design, development, promotion, and marketing.

The pediatrician, who apparently calls for “babywearing” in his book, which includes his Website as place to buy the sling, also apparently hired the engineer who designed it. The court agreed with the plaintiffs, finding that the statute’s definitions were broader than the defendant asserted and stating, “the question of whether Dr. Sears is a product seller or manufacturer of the relevant product should be determined by the trier of fact.”

The court agreed with the plaintiffs, finding that the statute’s definitions were broader than the defendant asserted and stating, “the question of whether Dr. Sears is a product seller or manufacturer of the relevant product should be determined by the trier of fact.”