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Feds File Suit Against Nap Nanny Maker After Five Infant Deaths

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(WASHINGTON) -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission is taking action against the makers of a portable baby recliner called the Nap Nanny after five infant deaths were linked to the product.

The commission filed a complaint on Wednesday to force the manufacturer, Baby Matters LLC, to pull its product off store shelves and offer full refunds to their customers.  In addition to the five deaths, the commission says there have been 70 complaints about children falling out of the Nap Nanny.

The commission says normally it can work things out with manufacturers to voluntarily recall a dangerous product, but for five months the makers of Nap Nanny have defiantly refused to pull its product or offer refunds.

"We believe it is a hazardous product and we are concerned about the safety of the children that are in there," Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman Alex Flip told ABC News.

Baby Matters LLC describes the Nap Nanny as an infant recliner designed to increase the baby's comfort.

"We had to take action because of the number of incidences, and that is why we have filed this complaint against the company.  They would not agree to a voluntary recall," Flip said.

The Nap Nanny was invented by Philadelphia sportscaster and mother Leslie Gudel.  She came up with the idea after learning her daughter would only fall asleep in the car seat.

In a statement posted on Nap Nanny's website, Gudel said she is heartbroken for the families who have lost a child, but said the victims' parents misused her product by either not strapping the baby in or placing the device on a table or in a crib.

Some of the cases involved recliners that were placed in a crib, which the company has urged parents not to do.

"We do not believe the complaint has merit and stand behind the safety of our product when used as instructed," Gudel wrote in the statement.  "The Nap Nanny should be placed on the floor with the harness secured."

Gudel said the ongoing battle with the CPSC has cost her company so much money that it was forced to close last month.

"Another small business is gone.  Twenty-two Americans are out of work between Nap Nanny and our supplier.  This doesn't take into account the financial impact our closure has had on our other U.S. suppliers," Gudel wrote.

The first infant death was reported in 2010, which caused Nap Nanny to recall the product that same year and raise the sides of the recliner.  The manufacturer also posted warnings and made an instructional video for parents.

According to the complaint, in April 2010, a six-month old died when she suffocated while using the Generation Two Nap Nanny.  The infant was not secured in the harness and the medical examiner ruled the cause of death was positional asphyxia.

In July 2010, a four-month old died when she suffocated between a Generation Two Nap Nanny and the bumper in her crib.  This time, the infant was secured in the harness but it failed to adequately restrain her in the recliner.

Still, the maker of the Nap Nanny stands by her product and says they have gone to "great lengths to make the safest product possible."

"No infant using the Nap Nanny properly has ever suffered an injury requiring medical attention," Gudel said in the statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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