Swedish furniture retailer, Ikea, has agreed to pay $50 million to the families of three young boys who all died when Ikea dresses toppled over with crushing force. According to a news report in the Washington Post, in all cases, the lethal furniture was one of Ikea’s Malm dressers, a line of assemble-it-yourself chests made of particleboard and fiberboard. The settlement came after two days of mediation with the families’ attorneys. This might be among the largest ever settlements of its type.
Parents of the children have recounted the unspeakable horror of seeing their young children trapped and lifeless under the collapsed furniture. The three children have been identified as Curren Collas,2, Theodore McGee, 22-month-old and Camden Ellis, 23-month-old. Four other deaths, the first in 1989 have been reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), all involving Ikea dressers that tipped over.
Dangerous and Defective Dressers
In the three wrongful death lawsuits filed in Philadelphia, the families argued that Ikea knew about dangers the Malm dressers posed. However, Ikea’s attorneys countered saying that the families were at fault for not supporting the dressers with wall anchors as the instructions indicated. Ikea recalled 29 million dressers in June. Of those, the Malm dressers represented more than one-fourth of the recalled products. In July 2015, the company had offered wall anchors to its customers.
But this year’s recall was more expansive. With regard to the settlement, each of the three families will receive a third of the $50 million sum. In addition, Ikea will donate $150,000 in memory of each child that will be divided among three children’s hospitals in Philadelphia. In addition, Ikea will donate $100,000 to Shane’s Foundation, a nonprofit group that aims to prevent such fatal tipovers.
How to Prevent Tipover Accidents
Dressers are not the only things in our homes that tip over and cause these tragic accidents. Televisions and other types of furniture pose serious hazards as well. Here are a few tips for parents and caregivers:
- Assess the stability of televisions in your home. 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.
- 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.