IKEA Settlement Results in $50M Payment To Families Of Children Killed By Dresser Tip Overs

IKEA has agreed to pay $50 million to settle claims brought by the families of three children who were killed by recalled MALM dressers, which tipped over due to a defective design, causing the children to suffer fatal injuries. 

The IKEA settlement was reached in wrongful death cases filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. In addition to the compensation paid to the families, IKEA has pledged to donate an estimated $250,000 to the families’ local hospitals, and to a children’s safety organization to improve national standards for clothing storage units.

Plaintiffs included Jackie Collas, of West Chester, Minneapolis, whose 2-year-old son, Curren, was crushed by an IKEA dresser in 2014; the parents of 2-year-old Camden Ellis of Snohomish, Washington, who died from injuries when an IKEA dresser tipped over in 2014; and the parents of 22 month old Theodore McGee of Apple Valley, Minnesota, who was killed in 2015.

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The lawsuits claimed IKEA had known of the dresser tip-over risks associated with the MALM products for years, yet negligently continued to sell them without altering the design or adding safety features.

IKEA was aware of several injury reports and a total of seven deaths from MALM dresser tip-over accidents, according to the lawsuit, with one report dating back to 1989. The parents alleged that IKEA knew of the unsafe design of the MALM dressers made them inherently unstable and top-heavy, and that they were not in compliance with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) safety standards, even after fatality reports from tip-over events were reported, and still continued to sell millions of the products anyway.

IKEA initially refuted the claims that the products did not meet safety standards, and argued that the parents were in part, if not fully, negligent for not anchoring the dressers to the wall or floor to prevent tip-over events. Federal safety regulations state that even when a dresser is not anchored it should still be stable enough not to tip-over easily.

Following pressure from the CPSC, an IKEA MALM dresser recall was issued in June, affecting about 29 million dressers from the brand line.

Instead of battling the plaintiff families in court, IKEA settled the claims with the three families, for a total of $50 million to be evenly split among plaintiffs. In addition, IKEA will donate $50,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Children’s Hospital in Washington State, and a children’s hospital in Minnesota in memory of the three children. IKEA has also pledged to donate $100,000 to the nonprofit Shane’s Foundation, which is a children’s safety organization focused on spreading the word of tip-over awareness and advocates for more stringent product storage safety guidelines.

These were not the first lawsuit settled by IKEA due to tipping dressers. In 2008, IKEA paid out $2.3 million to the parents of a three year old girl who was crushed to death by an IKEA wardrobe piece while playing in her bedroom. The company also settled another case in 2009 for the parents of a three year old California girl who was pinned to death when an IKEA three-drawer dresser tipped over on her while in her bedroom.

Furniture tip over accidents have gained substantial attention from federal regulators in recent years, following a number of incidents involving young children who were severely injured or killed when pinned beneath a heavy furniture piece that tipped over..

Children are inherently more susceptible to tip-over accidents from climbing and reaching for items at the top of dressers, or television stands, whether it is for a remote, gaming equipment or toys. The CPSC recommends that parents never leave items desirable to children on dressers and other top heavy furniture that would entice the child to try and climb or reach for them.

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