Ikea, the Swedish home goods store, has now reached a tentative settlement to pay $50 million to three American families whose young children were killed after the company’s furniture fell on them, lawyers for the families said. Ikea had previously announced a recall of 29 million chests and drawers related to these deaths . The three children died over the past two years after their Ikea furniture tipped over and fell on them. The recall affects the popular “Malm” collection of dressers and chests of drawers with three or more drawers, as well as a number of other Ikea models .
The dressers and chests in question can be pulled over by children unless they are securely attached to a wall. When a child opens multiple drawers and attempts to climb on them, even dressers that seem too heavy for a child to move can become vulnerable to tipping and falling. (Seemingly heavy and stable televisions can pose a similar hazard to children .)
In 2015, the company began offering free wall-mounting kits to consumers and encouraging them to attach dressers to the wall, but that did not prevent a later death because the child’s family was renting their apartment and were not allowed to put holes in their walls, as Ikea’s wall-mounting kits require. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, notes that there have been other tip-over incidents as well, including three earlier deaths involving other models of Ikea furniture, and many accidents that did not result in deaths.
Now, after the third death in two years, Ikea and the CPSC have announced that Malm and other tall dressers have been recalled. Consumers can ask for a free wall anchoring kit and use it to stabilize their IKEA furniture or they can opt for a refund for their furniture. Ikea is providing full refunds for dressers purchased after 2002, and partial store credit for older furniture  .
“If you have or think you have one of these products, act immediately,” CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said in a statement. “It is simply too dangerous to have the recalled furniture in your home unanchored, especially if you have young children.” Ikea US President lars Peterson stated that “The products are not designed to be freestanding; they are designed to be attached to the wall.” He wants consumers to understand that securing furniture to walls should be as second nature as putting on a seatbelt in a car. Moving forward, Ikea will no longer sell the now-recalled dressers in their current design; it will sell only products that meet CPSC guidelines for stability, but Petersson says even those dressers should, ideally, be anchored.
Safety standards that make dressers more stable are currently voluntary, but some lawmakers are pushing for legislation to make the standards mandatory, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. You can find much more information on the accidents, and how to prevent them, in an investigative piece the Inquirer published in 2015.
While there has been a significant amount of publicity related to just the Ikea furniture safety, experts recognize that children are at risk of injury from many different types of furniture and appliances. Our firm handled a case where an oven tipped forward, spilling boiling water on a small child and causing her to endure terrible burn injuries. We were able to reach a settlement that compensated the child for her injuries.
If you or a loved one has been severely injured by unsecured furniture, please call us for a free case evaluation. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Author: Serena C. Montague
Publication Date: January 9, 2017