Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2001 (Revised April 2002)

Ginzel et al v. Kolcraft Enterprises et al (A)

by Michael A. Wheeler

Abstract

Examines the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of an infant who died after a portable crib collapsed. The manufacturer, Kolcraft, licensed the Playskool brand name from the co-defendant, Hasbro Industries. Raises difficult questions about what the two companies should do now, after a series of tragic deaths--and after apparently complying with regulatory requirements governing product recall. Also raises provocative questions about the appropriateness of settlements in wrongful-death suits, corporate responsibility to ensure product safety, and pressures of national media attention on corporate actions. Though the circumstances here are particularly heart-breaking, managers often have to deal with lawsuits that are value-laden and have high emotional content, such as employment discrimination or sexual harassment claims, for example, or environmental and regulatory disputes. The kinds of decisions and tensions that a manager faces in such instances surely have much in common with the issues raised.

Keywords: Safety; Product; Negotiation; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Lawsuits and Litigation; Legal Liability; Brands and Branding; Consumer Products Industry; United States;

Citation:

Wheeler, Michael A. "Ginzel et al v. Kolcraft Enterprises et al (A)." Harvard Business School Case 801-059, March 2001. (Revised April 2002.)