IKEA Settlement Totals at $50 Million for Dangerous Dressers
IKEA has agreed to pay a $50 million settlement to the families of three young children who were killed after IKEA dressers tipped over onto the children. The families filed wrongful death lawsuits against the furniture manufacturer accusing them of continuing to sell products they knew to be dangerous, consistently ignoring national voluntary safety standards for furniture, and refusing to redesign products to improve stability and make them less likely to tip over.
Per the terms of the settlement, the money will be divided between the families. IKEA will also be required to make a $100,000 donation to a non-profit organization dedicated to child safety and a total of $150,000 in donations to children’s hospitals. The settlement also requires IKEA to spend more money to improve their “Secure It” program.
In June 2016, IKEA announced a massive recall of 29 million MALM dressers and other models of dressers after three toddlers died over the course of two years after being crushed to death by MALM dressers. Following the deaths of Curren Collas and Camden Ellis in 2014, IKEA launched their “Secure It” program to provide customers with free wall mounting kits for dressers. The recall didn’t come until several months after Ted McGee was killed in a similar manner in February 2016. All three children were approximately two years old when they died.
Those three deaths aren’t the only known deaths caused by IKEA dressers. A two-year-old child from Virginia was killed in September of 2011 after a MALM dresser fell over onto him. Three other child deaths have been linked to dangerous IKEA dressers going back as far as 1989. In addition to those deaths, IKEA has received over 40 complaints about tip-over accidents involving their dressers, many of which involved injuries to children.
The problem with the IKEA dressers involved in this recall and lawsuit is that they have a top-heavy design and do not meet voluntary industry standards for stability. Because of this, the dressers can tip over very easily if a child tries to climb the dresser, if a child tries to reach for something on top of the dresser, or if multiple drawers are opened at the same time. Although IKEA encourages customers to attach their dressers to the wall, many safety advocates believe it would be more effective to make dressers safer to begin with. Many people do not use wall-mounting kits because they live in rental properties and aren’t allowed to do things that would put holes in the wall.
Tip-over accidents are far from being a problem that’s only linked to IKEA dressers. They can involve many other types of furniture and appliances, with televisions very frequently being involved. Between 2000 and 2013, at least 430 deaths were attributed to tip-over accidents and it’s estimated that 38,000 people go to the emergency room every year because of tip-over accidents. Unfortunately, tip-over accidents result in a particularly high rate of childhood injuries. Over half of the 38,000 emergency room visits caused by tip-over accidents involve children under 5.