Clothing designers and manufacturers can be liable for clothing designs that are deemed unreasonably dangerous due to design elements or fabric choices. Those making clothing for children should be especially careful after a recent court decision in Minnesota. JDO v. The Gymboree Corp (U.S. Dist. Minn. Nov. 27, 2013
The Gymboree Corp’s dress fabric satisfied federal flammability standards. It also had the legally prescribed warning tag “not intended for sleepwear,” a warning commonly understood to mean the item is not flame retardant (is flammable). But that was not enough to prevent potential product liability for a burn by a 4 year old wearing the Gymboree dress. The court ruled that a jury could find alternative designs could have been used to make the dress safer. The court considered the open and flowing design and the lightweight cotton fabric in ruling that there were factual issues regarding whether the dress design was unreasonably dangerous. The case will be decided by a jury.