Swedish furniture giant Ikea has agreed to pay a $46-million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of a toddler in California who was crushed to death by a popular dresser model that was recalled after at least five other children were tragically killed. According to a CNN report, Ikea reached a $50 million settlement with three other families whose children were killed after the dresser topped over and crushed them.
Tragic Child Deaths
Orange County couple Joleen and Craig Dudek, parents of 2-year-old Jozef, who was killed in May 2017, sued Ikea in Pennsylvania state court where the corporation’s North American headquarters is based. Their complaint stated that Ikea knew it’s line of dressers were defective and were prone to tip-overs, but failed to warn customers of the unstable design. The company first offered free wall-anchoring kits to millions of customers as part of a repair program before issuing a recall in June 2016.
The Dudeks, who live in Buena Park, said they bought the dresser in 2008 and were never alerted about the recall. On May 24, 2017, Craig Dudek said he found his son pinned under the drawers of a 70-pound Malm dresser that had toppled on to him. Jozef died from asphyxia caused by mechanical compression of the neck. Ikea issued a statement saying the company has taken steps to raise awareness about the safety hazards of tip-overs and requires specific safety training for employees.
Consumer safety groups say Josef’s death was not an isolated case. Many of these groups have pushed Congress to pass the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act or STURDY Act, which would essentially 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 as a result of tip-overs. Since 2011, at least five other children have been killed and an additional 91 children had been injured before Jozef’s death, the couple’s lawsuit stated.
What Can Parents and Caregivers Do?
Dressers, televisions and other types of furniture pose serious hazards to young children. Here are a few tips for parents and caregivers to help prevent these tragic incidents:
- Secure furniture by using brackets, braces or wall straps. Install stops on dresser drawers to prevent them from being pulled all the way out. Multiple open drawers can cause weight to shift, making it easier for a dresser to fall.
- Put heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.
- Do not place remote controls, food, toys or other items in places where children might be tempted to climb up or reach for them.
- Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall to reduce the risk of them toppling off stands. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you have a secure fit.
If your child has been injured as a result of these types of dangerous or defective products, please contact an experienced California product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.