The potty training device is marketed as “soft and cushiony” on Target’s website — a way to give toddlers “a sense of security during training time.”
But a Riverside, Calif. family says the WeePOD Basix Potty Ring they purchased at Target did the opposite: It “nearly dismembered” their 3-year-old boy’s genitals and caused permanent damage, according to a lawsuit the family filed on Dec. 5 in Riverside County Superior Court following an incident they say happened in June.
The boy’s penis got stuck to the potty trainer, the lawsuit says, and then the device’s polypropylene surface lacerated the boy’s penis — nearly cutting the child’s genitals all the way around. The 3-year-old’s brother witnessed the injuries, the lawsuit says.
“People go to Target assuming the products they sell aren’t going to mutilate a toddler’s genitals,” John Kristensen, the family’s attorney, told the Press-Enterprise. “This kid’s scarred for life.”
After the child was taken to the emergency room, his penis had to be glued back together because the injured region was so sensitive stitches wouldn’t have been advisable, Kristensen told the newspaper.
The boy’s family is suing for unspecified damages. The attorney for the family requested the names of both the child and his family not be identified to protect the child’s privacy.
Kristensen told CBS Los Angeles that the product had been marketed by its producer, Prince Lionheart, and by the seller, Target, as safe — but that there had been safety complaints lodged about it since at least 2015. The product has not been recalled, according to the lawsuit.
“They had a duty to warn customers about the dangers of their WeePOD product,” Kristensen told CBS. “Their failure to do so was reckless and led directly to the mutilation of my client.”
A Target spokeswoman told the Press-Democrat that the retailer and its legal team is reviewing the lawsuit.
“We take product safety incredibly seriously, are committed to providing safe products to our guests and require our vendors to follow all product safety laws and CPSC guidelines for the products they sell at Target,” spokeswoman Jenna Reck said in a statement to the newspaper.
Though the product has slightly more than 3 ½ stars out of 5 stars on Target’s website, where it’s sold for $14.99, the reviews of the potty training device are mixed. Positive reviews rave about the splash guard and suction cups that keep the trainer in place.
“It is so comfortable for toddlers,” a five-star review from Lisa said. “[I]t is so easy for us to clean.”
But negative reviews warned that the seat could cause a rash, and was prone to cracking.
“This seemed like a good quality toilet seat,” Melissa wrote in a one-star review, “but it made my son break out in a rash on the back of his legs. After doing some internet searching I found out others had this problem as well.”
Officials from Prince Lionheart, the maker of the potty training device, told the Press-Democrat that the family didn’t reach out to them before filing the lawsuit.
“The safety of children is our number-one priority,” CEO Kelly McConnell told the newspaper in the statement. “All of our products are tested by third-party accredited testing houses and either meet or exceed all applicable domestic and international standards.”
According to the lawsuit, the device has caused injury before, and Target and Prince Lionheart should have taken it off the shelves or warned customers earlier.
In 2015, a child in Virginia sustained a similar injury from the same Prince Lionheart seat, also bought at Target, the lawsuit says.
“My 4 year old son was going to the bathroom on his wee pod basix potty seat and when he stood up he started screaming,” a Virginia parent said in 2015, according to the lawsuit. “He had a nasty cut on the base of his penis and it was bleeding a lot. My husband and I cleaned him up and took him to the doctor.
The webpage where the parent’s 2015 comment was posted “is no longer available due to Target’s malfeasance,” the lawsuit says.
“When we got home I examined the seat and the bottom edge is actually very sharp and just sliced open the very sensitives in in that area,” the Virginia parent continued, the lawsuit says. “This has been horribly traumatic for him and could have been so much worse.”
In addition to seeking damages, the lawsuit also asks that Target and Prince Lionheart “fix and/or warn of the defective WeePODs’ potential to lacerate toddlers’ genitals while under normal foreseeable use.”