Furniture retailer Ikea has agreed to pay a $46 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of a California toddler. The boy was crushed to death by a recalled dresser that toppled over. According to a report in The New York Times, the tragic incident occurred on May 24, 2017 when the child’s father went into the boy’s bedroom to check on him, and found the toddler pinned under the drawers of the 70-pound dresser.
Danger of Tip-Overs
The couple filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company in 2017 in the state court of Pennsylvania where Ikea’s North American headquarters is based. The lawsuit alleged that the furniture manufacturer knew that the Malm line of dressers was prone to tipping over and causing catastrophic injuries, but had failed to warn consumers about the product’s unstable design. In 2016, Ikea had reached a $50-million settlement with three other families whose children were killed in similar fashion, when the dresser tipped over and crushed them.
Ikea initially offered free wall-anchoring kits to millions of customers who had purchased its products as part of a repair program before issuing a recall in June 2016. The couple in California said they purchased the dresser in 2008, but that Ikea never alerted them to the safety recall.
Consumer safety groups have pressed Congress to pass the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act or STURDY Act, which would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to develop safety rules for free-standing clothing storage units to protect children from death or injury from tip-overs. Since 2011, at least five other children have been killed when various models of the Malm dresser tipped over and an additional 91 children were injured prior to the child’s death in California.
What the Statistics Show
Last year, the CPSC released a new report titled “Product Instability or Tip-Over Injuries and Fatalities Associated with Televisions, Furniture and Appliances.” The report compiles tip-over fatality statistics over the period 2000-2018 as well as injury statistics from 2016-2018. The findings show that furniture tip-overs are a significant problem.
The CPSC report shows that between 2000 and 2018, 556 deaths were caused by tip-overs and of these fatalities 83 percent involved children between the ages of 0 and 17. Children also accounted for 46 percent of all tip-over injuries, and the majority of children’s tip-over injuries and fatalities involved children ages 1 to 4. Furniture such as chests, dressers, bookshelves, drawers, television stands, desks, etc., were found to be the main culprits in these fatalities and injuries. The types of furniture that caused the most injuries for children were tables at 37 percent and dressers, chests and bureaus were a close second at 34 percent.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Product manufacturers have a responsibility to warn consumers about the dangers caused by their products. When a safety recall is announced, the manufacturer must make sure the information gets through to consumers. Injured victims and their families in such cases can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income and benefits, hospitalization, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families that have lost loved ones may also be able to seek compensation for damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a recalled product, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our firm recovered $1,100,000 as a total payout for a child who fell out of a window. The landlord in that case did not install a window guard as required under the law. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
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