Several complaints have been made to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding wires under tension in pop-up hampers springing loose from their fabric enclosure and causing serious injury. While the CPSC considers whether a full safety investigation is warranted, many remain at risk of losing an eye or losing all or part of their eyesight from the dangerously-designed clothes hamper.

There is no one known trigger that tends to lead to injury when using the pop-up hampers. One person lost her eye when a wire came loose while she was opening the packaging the hamper came in; another child suffered a serious personal injury when he was loading dirty clothes into the hamper and the nylon fabric tore, releasing the tension wire.

The Design Defect In Pop-Up Hampers

The defective clothes hampers are made of mesh, nylon, and a wiring system. The tension in the wiring system is what causes the hamper to pop up and to hold its shape when standing upright. The problem with this system is that the nylon material encasing the wiring system shreds too easily; it is simply not strong enough to withstand the force created by the tension wire.

According to one Houston attorney involved with the defective hamper cases, “When you see a thin piece of nylon that can shred and this wire is under pressure, pushing against that nylon, then we’re causing a hazard.”

The wire is coated at the ends with a rubbery substance; in theory this is intended to protect a consumer from serious injury as well as make it less likely that the wire will cut through the thin nylon. Unfortunately, this rubber tipping is insufficient to protect from serious puncture wounds, particularly to the eye, which can occur when the force of the tension causes the wire to pop out of the casing. It is also insufficient to keep the wire from fraying or tearing the nylon fabric holding the tension wire in place in the hamper.

Eye Injuries Resulting From The Defective Pop-Up Hamper

A Texas woman lost her eye to a stray wire from her brand new pop-up hamper. She had just purchased the hamper from Wal-Mart and was opening the package when the wire sprung free and penetrated her eye. She was permanently blinded in a matter of seconds.

An 11-year-old boy received a substantial cut to his eye when filling his pop-up hamper with clothing. The wire popped loose from its casing and punctured his eye, leaving him with several stitches in his eye (not the skin tissue around it, but the eye itself) and seriously affected vision. He may or may not regain full vision in the injured eye.

Yet another child, this one under two years old, sustained a serious eye-injury when the wire in her defective pop-up hamper broke loose. Her hamper was themed specifically for children, raising the assumption that it would be safe for a child’s bedroom use. Her doctor had thought the toddler was the victim of a freak accident. But after also treating the young boy, she realized that a pattern was forming related to injuries caused by the defective clothes hamper.

While eye injuries appear to be the most serious of the injuries caused by the defective pop-up hampers, the CPSC also lists a complaint related to the hamper that resulted in a deep skin cut. The injured consumer had to seek treatment at an emergency room and the wound required five stitches.

Who Is Responsible For The Injuries Caused By Defective Products?

Any person or company who creates a product to be sold to consumers has a duty to make that product reasonably safe, or not unreasonably dangerous, for use. Whether a product is safe for use is determined by the product itself – how it is made, the materials used, the warnings included – and not how the product is actually used by the consumer.

Typically, a product is considered defective if:

  • It was poorly designed
  • It was poorly manufactured
  • Appropriate warnings of potential dangers were not included in its packaging

When a dangerous or defective product is manufactured and put into the market stream to be sold to consumers, anyone in the distribution chain may potentially be responsible for injuries caused by the product. This includes the original manufacturer, a wholesaler or distributor and the retailer who actually sold the product.

When a defective product results in serious injury or death, the injured person or his or her surviving family may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to the injury caused by the defective product
  • Wages lost because a person was temporarily or permanently unable to work because of the injury
  • Lost physical capacity
  • Pain, suffering and emotional/mental anguish related to the injury

In addition, it may be possible to recover punitive damages from the manufacturer of a dangerous or defective product. This compensation is not intended to replace anything that was ‘lost’ by the individual or family because of the defective product but rather to punish the company who created the dangerous product that caused serious or fatal injury.

As with any legal claims, there are certain requirements and time limits that apply when attempting to hold a company responsible for a defective or dangerous product. If you or someone you love has lost an eye, a portion or all of their eyesight or suffered other serious injury due to a defective pop-up hamper, a Texas personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and pursue all potential compensation for your losses.