This week I picked up two infant seats from one of the local PDs because I had received a phone call from a social service agency that needed a carseat for an expecting client.  This Spanish-speaking mom from Peru doesn’t own a vehicle and relies on taxis and public transportation to get around.  I knew this particular PD had infant seats so I asked if they’d let me have a couple – and they did. They gave me new, baseless, 5-pt Dorel Arrivas with a 2006 DOM.  The Arriva was a cheap infant seat that was popular years ago (popular as in many were sold) but currently it’s only available institutionally to CPS programs.  

The first thing I noticed when I took off the plastic was a shiny yellow sticker on the buckle.  When I looked, it said:

IMPORTANT NOTICE
Purchase / Use of this Product is Subject to
an Agreement to Resolve Disputes Outside of
Court.  See Instruction Manual for Details.
!WARNING:  Remove this label and discard.  Label can be a choking hazard to your child.

(Anyone else see the irony in the warning about the sticker itself? Their lawyers are certainly thorough, aren’t they?)

Anyhow, I check the owner’s manual and low and behold, in the very back sandwiched between the warranty and the replacement parts order form are 3 pages of an “Agreement to Resolve Disputes Outside of Court”.

I can’t retype the whole thing but this is what it looks like.  And it ends with this statement:

IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS, DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT.  CALL DOREL JUVENILE GROUP AT 1-800-630-6735 WITHIN 30 DAYS OF YOUR DATE OF PURCHASE TO ARRANGE FOR RETURN OF THIS PRODUCT AND REFUND OF YOUR PURCHASE PRICE.

Now, here’s my dilemma – how the heck am I supposed to give a seat with all these legal stipulations to someone who doesn’t even speak English?  The manual is English only and while I speak a fair amount of conversational Spanish – there’s no way I can translate this legal agreement.  Even if I could, I wouldn’t feel right about providing someone with a product that had such stipulations attached.  And what does this tell us about the safety and quality of this particular product?  I’ve scoured every other Dorel manual and none of them have this “agreement”.  Only the Arriva manuals have it.  If you have the CD of Child Restraint Manufacturers Instructions from SafetyBeltSafe, USA you can check it out.  It’s seems pretty obvious that there was a reason that Dorel and their legal team decided to add this warning/agreement for this particular carseat.  Honestly, that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in this product. 

So now I feel stuck.  I really don’t want to give this particular seat to ANYONE.  And yet I don’t have another infant seat to give this woman (who is due in 2 weeks).  I could give her a convertible but that wouldn’t be too helpful and it would probably wind up not being used.  I’m sure the Arriva is better than holding the baby on her lap in the back of a taxi.  But now I’m wondering about MY legal liability (something that, frankly, I never worry about).  If a CPS program distributes these seats – does their legal liability end when they place the seat in the hands of the parent/caregiver?