The wrongful death lawsuit brought against furniture retailer, Ikea concluded this Wednesday, when the company agreed to a $50 million settlement. The charges stemmed from the deaths of three young children - Curren Collas (2), Camden Ellis (2), and Theodore McGee (1) - who were crushed as a result of tip-over accidents with their "MALM" Ikea dressers.
The suit was filed in the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia last June, and resulted in the immediate recall of approximately 29 million Ikea dressers. Attorneys from Feldman, Shepherd, Wohlgelernter, Tanner, Weinstock & Dodig, LLP represented the affected families, and argued that the unstable dressers did not meet proper stability standards and posed a "preventable threat." Ikea representatives initially disputed this claim, pointing out that the families had not anchored their dressers to the wall, as outlined in the instructions. However, internal documents that were finally forcibly turned over by Ikea last week sufficed as evidence of the contrary. In addition to the $50 million for the families, Ikea will also pay $100,000 to non-profits aimed at spreading tip-over hazard awareness and $50,000 to children's hospitals in the victims' hometowns.
The suit has garnered sympathy and support from families nationwide and the public's lack of concern over the hazards of tip-over accidents fortunately seems to be diminishing as a result. These types of accidents send about 38,000 people in the U.S. to the hospital annually, and greater strides must be taken to prevent them. The tragic losses experienced by the Curren, Ellis, and McGee families will hopefully serve to increase company vigilance and compliance with voluntary changes. Campaigns such as "Anchor It!" that aim to increase awareness through PSAs and informational sites are a big part of the solution. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has spearheaded these efforts, and advises families to use sturdy furniture, anchor furniture to walls, remove tempting objects from the tops of furniture, and only place TVs on furniture that is low and stable.
CPSC.gov. (05 June 2015). "Anchor It!: CPSC Launches Nation's Largest Campaign to Prevent Furniture and TV Tip-Over Deaths and Injuries." United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Retrieved from http://www.cpsc.gov.
Hellstrom, Johannes. (22 Dec. 2016). "Ikea Agrees to $50 Million Settlement in Dresser Tip-Over Case." Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com.
Nadolny, Tricia L. (22 Dec. 2016). "Ikea to pay $50 Million to Parents of Three Boys Killed in Dress Tip-Overs." The Inquirer Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.philly.com.
Nadolny, Tricia L. (01 Feb. 2015). "Tip-Overs: Preventable Tragedies." The Inquirer Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.philly.com.