Rotten Eggs, Sad Kids, and a Class Action Lawsuit

Q: What can I do if I purchase defective products or toys?

It was arguably the hottest toy of the 2016 holiday season. It seemed that nearly every boy and girl of a certain age had a Hatchimal toy at the top of their wish list.

A Hatchimal is an electronic, interactive furry creature that promises to hatch out of its egg in response to approximately 10-40 minutes of holding, rubbing, tapping, and caressing from its human recipient. The Hatchimal then proceeds to develop over time through three stages of life – baby, toddler, and kid– as the child continues to teach it to talk, and walk, and otherwise interact with it. The five different Hatchimals each come concealed in speckled eggs. (Two are available everywhere toys are sold, while the other three are each exclusive to three different large store chains.) The biggest hype is in the hatching feature as children do not know exactly what is in the egg until it hatches.

Hatchimals debuted in early October and if you weren’t lucky enough to snatch one up right away at a local retailer for the regular retail price of approximately $50-60, they were nearly impossible to find by the time November arrived.

Every year there’s always an item or two that causes parents to camp out all night or wait on lines that wrap around buildings or pay hundreds of dollars on the black market in the desperate hope of scoring the season’s top toy.

It appears the manufacturer grossly underestimated how ridiculously popular Hatchimals would become. The shortage was so distressing that parents unable to get one flocked to social media genuinely distraught over what the impact would be when no Hatchimal was under the tree. How would they explain the absence of their child’s #1 wish list item? Some suggested giving kids an explanatory apology note from Santa about some supply shortage at the North Pole and an IOU to help ease the blow and save Christmas. Some social media “grinches” responded that the kids should learn a life lesson in not getting everything you want.

Imagine going through the effort and expense it may have taken to obtain one of these coveted toys only to see your child dissolve into tears when it fails to hatch on Christmas morning? While plenty of kids were experiencing Hatchimal magic, others were coping with the disappointment of either getting a reluctant hatcher or an I.O.U. from Santa.

In response to a flood of complaints to customer service and a firestorm of anger on social media, the Hatchimal website posted some trouble shooting tips outlining a series of actions that can be taken to coax the toy out of its shell. Despite the helpful videos, some parents remain dissatisfied. While some have simply returned the toy or gotten a replacement, others are taking things further.

A California woman recently brought a federal class-action lawsuit against the toy maker regarding the defective product alleging “deceptive business practices in selling Hatchimals”. She is seeking “compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages” and asking  for a product recall of the “defective” Hatchimals, alleging that the toy she gave her daughter for a January birthday present did not properly hatch. Often, when claims of defective children’s toys make the news, they involve a demand for a recall due to the toy causing illness, physical injury, or death.

The company disputes the suit’s allegations and says it took “extraordinary and proactive steps” including responding to consumer questions, giving troubleshooting support, and providing prompt replacement products for the “few consumers whose toys did not work as they anticipated”.

Product liability injuries may arise from defective designs, manufacturing flaws, or even false marketing.

If you or a family member has suffered as a result of a defective product, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. The personal injury and product liability attorneys at J&Y law firm can help. Call 888-806-6722 for a free consultation. From one of our four centrally located offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Francisco, we serve clients all over the state of California.