New Lawsuit Could Take Bite Out Of Crocs

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The family of a child whose foot was maimed in an escalator accident at the Atlanta airport is suing Crocs Inc., saying the Colorado-based footwear company failed to put safety features in the soft-soled shoes.

It's the second federal lawsuit filed this summer involving a child wearing Crocs injured on escalators at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The lawsuit filed Aug. 26 by Clark Meyer, who is the father of a 4-year-old boy identified as "A.M.," seeks $2 million in damages.

Attorney Stephen McConnell said the boy was riding an escalator at the airport July 15 when the machinery mangled his Crocs and "severely and permanently damaged" his right foot.

Crocs spokeswoman Tia Mattson declined to comment.

At least three children have been injured in the past three months at the Atlanta airport, spurring officials to post signs warning of escalator dangers, reports CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano.

New York-based attorney Andrew Laskin, who is leading the case, also is handling the case of a 3-year-old girl from Louisville, Ky., injured when an escalator ripped skin from her foot and broke three toes in June.

Laskin is also suing Crocs over a child who was hurt at a Los Angeles mall. He has settled two other cases with the footwear company, but declined to comment on them.

"This is happening everywhere and Crocs is basically saying it's the fault of the escalators - or the parents are not watching their children," Laskin said. "But that would be the case only if it kept happening on the same escalator over and over again."

In April, Japanese and Filipino authorities asked the Niwot, Colo.-based company to consider changing the footwear's design because of similar escalator accidents in their countries.

The shoe company has promised to insert safety tags into its packaging by next year.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has documented 77 soft shoe entrapments on escalators since January 2006 and issued a warning in May.

In a 16-page letter to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in June, the company's engineering director Erik Olson said Crocs has knowledge of 186 accidents involving its shoes and has initiated "safety investigations."

But he added, "Crocs shoes neither present nor introduce a unique hazard pattern when worn by children or adults on escalators."

Mattson would not say how many times the company has been sued or settled lawsuits.
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