SALT LAKE CITY — Two parents who were BYU sports stars are suing several window blind companies after their 3-year-old daughter got tangled in a cord and died of her injuries in 2016.
Attorneys for Reno Mahe, the former BYU football star and running backs coach, and Sunny Mahe, once a volleyball standout, filed the lawsuit Thursday in 3rd District Court.
Their daughter Elsie died after she became caught in a miniblind cord while playing with a friend on Nov. 22, 2016, at her family's home in Lehi. She was rushed to Primary Children's Hospital, where she died of her injuries a week later, court documents state.
The lawsuit names five companies that make, market and install blinds: Blindvision, Century Blinds, Hunter Douglas, Hunter Douglas Fabrication Co. and Turnils North America. It also lists as unnamed defendants anyone who "may be responsible for plaintiff's injuries and damages whose names and entities are unknown at this time."
The lawsuit contends the parents endured extreme emotional harm, plus medical and funeral bills. The suit seeks damages to be determined at trial.
Alan Mortensen, the attorney for the Mahe family, said the purpose of the lawsuit isn't to make up their financial losses from medical bills and funeral costs — though that is named in the filings — it is to raise awareness about a little-known and widespread danger.
"The purpose of the lawsuit is consistent with what they have done with their nonprofit to help grieving parents. It's to let people know, to lets parents know and grandparents know, that this is a huge hazard," Mortensen said.
The Consumer Protection Safety Commission has said for decades that blinds are one of the leading dangers in the home, Mortensen said, but most families are unaware of the risk. The Mahe family hopes the lawsuit will push blinds manufacturers to switch to a cordless design, he explained.
"This is a problem that can be easily solved for just a few pennies per blind, people just don't know about it," Mortensen said.16 comments on this story
The suit contends the cord on the window covering could extend to 7 ¼ inches, posing an "unreasonable risk of strangulation." It says the product failed to provide adequate warnings of such a hazard and lacked effective safety devices. The companies were negligent and breached warranties in putting the faulty products on the market, the suit alleges.
Elsie Mahe was the youngest of eight children. Her father played football for Brighton High, Dixie State and the Philadelphia Eagles, aside from his time at BYU. He stepped down from the coaching job at BYU last year.
Contributing: Mary Richards