(USA Today) -- Federal regulators Wednesday sued the maker of Nap Nanny infant recliners because the company wouldn't agree to a recall.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission had demanded a recall because it says five infants died while in a Nap Nanny.
The CPSC's lawsuit alleges that Baby Matters, the maker of Nap Nanny, should notify the public about the risks, and to refund the cost of the product to any customers who bought it.
Regulators say there are reports the Philadelphia-based company is closing, but the company's website is live. Owner Leslie Gudel Kemm could not be reached immediately for comment.
The Nap Nanny Generation One and Two, and Chill infant recliners have defects in the design, warnings and instructions, which "pose a substantial risk of injury and death to infants," the CPSC's complaint alleges.
CPSC says it knows of four deaths to infants in earlier Nap Nanny models. A fifth death involved the Chill model. The agency says it has received more than 70 additional incident reports of children nearly falling out of the product.
The agency also says the maker of the Nap Nanny declined to address the hazard CPSC says exists when the product is used in a crib without the harness straps securely fastened.
"Parents are placing them inside of cribs and there have been tragic situations where they tipped over," says CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson.
Risks include infants falling out of the product and becoming wedged between the recliner and the crib mattress. In other cases, the product's attached harness has failed to keep babies from falling out if the product tips, Wolfson said.
In July 2010, CPSC and Baby Matters agreed to a settlement in which the company offered an $80 coupon to owners of the Generation One Nap Nanny toward the purchase of a new model. Those models came with more understandable instructions and warnings.
In March, Kemm, the Baby Matters founder, told USA TODAY that she had done everything she could think of to assure the product's safety. There are no federal standards for infant recliners, so Kemm said she tried unsuccessfully to get the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association to create a voluntary standard. She said they refused because infant recliners are not a "mass produced category."
"We did what we could," Kemm said, including testing with live babies and making necessary product changes. "We saw this as our only choice, given the dead ends we had hit elsewhere."
Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY