IKEA faces a wrongful death lawsuit that blame the furniture manufacturer and retailer for the death of a two-year old who was pinned beneath an IKEA dresser that fell over on him.
The complaint was filed recently by the parents of Camden Ellis in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, indicating that IKEA continued to sell the dresser even though they knew it posed a tip-over injury risk.
The toddler died in June 2014, after a three-drawer IKEA MALM dresser tipped over and pinned him. The boy remained on a ventilator for four days before his parents chose to take him off life support.
The case is at least the second IKEA tip over lawsuit involving a MALM dresser. The other complaint was filed by the parents of Curren Collas, who died in February 2014 when a similar six-drawer dresser fell onto him. In both cases, the dresser was not secured to the floor or wall, and contained no anti-tip prevention devices.
On July 22, 2015, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced an IKEA dresser repair program, indicating that the company would provide free wall anchoring kits and tip-over restraints to owners of about seven million pieces of IKEA furniture after determining that the products are prone to tipping-over. The deaths of both toddlers were cited as reasons for the program.
Both IKEA and the CPSC are aware of 14 reports of certain MALM brand line furniture pieces tipping over, resulting in at least four injury reports. Reports suggest that since 1989, IKEA has become aware of three additional tip-over deaths involving certain chests and dressers that were not restrained.
IKEA’s repair program offered all U.S. customers a free wall anchoring repair kit for use with the MALM 3- and 4-drawer chests and two styles of MALM 6-drawer chests, children’s IKEA chests, all model dressers taller than 23 ½ inches, and all IKEA adults chests and dressers taller than 29 ½ inches. The kits will contain replacement tip-over restraints and a full wall anchoring kit with hardware, instructions, and warning labels.
In the IKEA wrongful death lawsuit, Camden’s parents, Charles Ellis and Crystal Borm, seek compensatory damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress and funeral expenses, as well as punitive damages designed to punish the manufacturer and retailer.
Furniture Tip-Over Injury Risks
According to CPSC data, furniture and TV tip-over accidents have caused 430 deaths over the last 13 years and account for roughly 38,000 emergency rooms visits annually.
As part of recent efforts to raise awareness about the risk of furniture tip over accidents, the commission indicated that at least one child dies every two weeks and another child is injured every 24 minutes in the U.S. from heavy furniture or televisions tipping over.
In 2013, researchers from the Child Injury Prevention Alliance published a study in the medical journal Pediatrics that found 400,000 children were treated in emergency rooms for furniture tip over accidents over the prior two decades, with more than 50% of the visits involving televisions that fell on a child.
Children are more susceptible to tip-over accidents due to their height and that they may try to climb on a TV stand or dresser to reach remotes, gaming equipment, or toys. The CPSC recommends that parents never leave remotes on dressers or anything that would entice a child to reach upward and pose a tip-over hazard.