IKEA has agreed to pay $46 million to the parents of a 2-year-old boy who died of injuries suffered when a 32-kilogram recalled dresser tipped over onto him, the family's lawyers said Monday.
Jozef Dudek, of Buena Park, California, died in 2017 of his injuries, and his parents sued the Swedish home furnishings company in a Philadelphia court in 2018.
In the lawsuit, the Dudeks accused IKEA of knowing that its Malm dressers posed a tip-over hazard and that they had injured or killed a number of children, but that the company had failed to warn consumers that the dressers shouldn't be used without being anchored to a wall. The dresser was recalled in 2016, according to the suit.
Jozef's parents, of Buena Park, California, did not know the dresser had been recalled at the time of their son's death, said attorney Daniel Mann of Philadelphia's Feldman Shepherd law firm.
"We never thought" that the 2-year-old could cause a dresser "to topple over and suffocate him," the child's parents, Joleen and Craig Dudek, said in a statement after the settlement was announced. "It was only later that we learned that this dresser was unstable by design and did not meet safety standards and that this had happened to other little boys."
"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 said in a statement. "We remain committed to working proactively and collaboratively to address this very important home safety issue."
The settlement also requires IKEA to meet with the advocacy organization, Parents Against Tip-overs, and broaden its outreach to consumers about the recall of IKEA dressers, according to the Dudeks' lawyers at Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig.
The Dudek family will donate $1 million from the settlement to organizations that advocate for more rigorous stability testing for dressers, they said.
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, working to make safer products.
IKEA's 2016 recall was the largest furniture recall in history, involving not just dressers from its Malm line, which at the time had been linked to at least four deaths, but dozens of other models sold by the retailer over the decades. The company, which has its North American headquarters in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, agreed to give full refunds in most cases.
Six months after the recall, in December 2016, IKEA paid $50 million to the parents of the three toddlers, including 2-year-old Curren Collas of West Chester, Pennsylvania, who died after a dresser toppled onto them in 2014 and 2015.
The company's recall efforts also came under scrutiny after only 3% of the dressers had been repaired or returned through January 2017, a group of advocates that includes the Consumer Federation of America said. After two toddlers died in 2017, the company launched an informational campaign about the recall and sent crews to consumers' homes to either anchor dressers or collect them.
An estimated 5,800 children under the age of 7 were injured from furniture tip-overs between 2015 and 2017, according to a December 2018 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal regulatory agency that oversees consumer product recalls.
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