In between, on May 24, 2017, an IKEA dresser toppled over on 2-year-old Jozef Dudek in his Buena Park, Calif., bedroom. The blow injured the child’s neck, causing him to suffocate.
Monday, a law firm representing Jozef’s parents reported that IKEA agreed to pay $46 million in damages, “believed to be the largest child wrongful death recovery in American history,” the firm stated. The settlement “includes non-monetary terms intended to protect other children from IKEA furniture tip-over incidents.”
A lawsuit filed in 2018 alleged that IKEA knew of many injuries and deaths associated with tip-overs of the MALM line of dressers prior to Jozef’s death but failed to take adequate measures to improve the safety and stability of its products.
“We will continue to seek justice for the families we represent who have been victimized by dangerously unstable dressers, and to more broadly support the efforts of parents, consumer advocates, government agencies and legislators to improve the design safety of furniture used by and for children,” attorney Alan M. Feldman said in a statement.
IKEA agrees to other measures
As part of the settlement, IKEA agreed to meet with representatives of Parents Against Tip-overs, an advocacy organization fighting for mandatory stability standards for dressers, and to broaden its outreach to consumers about the recall of MALM and other model IKEA dressers.
The Dudek family will donate $1 million from the settlement to consumer organizations that advocate for more rigorous stability testing for dressers. The three organizations are Kids in Danger, Consumer Reports and the Consumer Federation of America.
In a statement, IKEA said it offered its deepest condolences and is working to address “this very important home safety issue,” including offering consumer education and safety workshops and working to make safer products, the Associated Press reported. “While no settlement can alter the tragic events that brought us here, for the sake of the family and all involved, we’re grateful that this litigation has reached a resolution.”
IKEA knew of eight tip-over deaths
In its November 2017 recall announcement, IKEA stated it had “received 186 reports of tip-over incidents involving the MALM chests and dressers, including 91 reports of injuries to children. In addition, IKEA has received 113 reports of tip-overs with other recalled IKEA chests and dressers, including 53 reports of injuries to children. There have been eight reports of child tip-over related deaths with the recalled chests and dressers.”
IKEA, founded in Sweden, is one of the world’s largest furniture retailers. It is not a member of the Home Furnishings Association.
The HFA advises all its members not to sell covered products that fail to meet ASTM voluntary standards for furniture stability. It also has urged the Consumer Products Safety Commission to set a mandatory standard. It encourages retailers to provide tip-restraint kits to purchasers of bedroom chests and dressers so that those units can be secured to walls or floors.