In one of the largest settlements of its type, furniture seller Ikea has agreed to pay $50 million to the families of three two-year-olds from different states who all died after dressers tipped over on them. The three boys were from Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Washington State.
All three wrongful death lawsuits were filed in Philadelphia. The lawsuits were filed in the Courts of Common Pleas and claimed Ikea had known for years that the dressers were dangerous, yet the company continued to sell them. The settlement was reached this month after just two days of mediation talks. Each family will get a third of the settlement. The Courts of Common Pleas are organized into 60 judicial districts and are the trial courts of Pennsylvania. Major civil and criminal cases are heard in these courts.
The three boys named in the settlement died in June 2014, February 2015 and February 2016, however, they were not the only children harmed by Ikea dressers. According to reports made to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 19 children have been injured and three others ranging in age from 20 months to 3 years have been killed by toppling dressers since 1989. In 2008, Ikea paid $2.3 million to the parents of a 3-year-old Pennsylvania girl who was crushed by an Ikea wardrobe in her bedroom. A year later, a similar lawsuit against the company brought by the parents of a 3-year-old California girl was settled for an undisclosed sum. Per the Safety Commission, a child is injured by tipped furniture an average of every 24 minutes, and every two weeks a child is killed.
The three recently-settled lawsuits asserted that the unsafe dresser designs rendered them unstable and prone to tipping. In addition, the lawsuits suggested Ikea had refused to meet voluntary national safety standards for the stability of chests and dressers, that were adopted by other furniture companies in the United States. Attorney's for the victims' families claimed Ikea was aware of other deaths and injuries caused by their furniture, but still failed to redesign their dressers to make them more stable.
In July 2015, Ikea began offering free wall anchors to customers so they could secure the furniture. However, this summer, the company recalled 29 million dressers and began offering a one-time, free in-home installation service, upon request. Alternatively, customers who bought dressers made between January 2002 to June 2016 can get a refund.
In addition to the $50 million settlement, Ikea has agreed to:
- Donate $50,000 in the name of each victim to children's hospitals in their home states.
- Donate $100,000 to a foundation dedicated to children's safety with a focus on the prevention of tipping furniture.
- Only sell chests and dressers in the U.S. that meet or exceed the strict requirements of the national voluntary safety standard.
- Increase funding for a campaign to raise awareness of the risk of furniture tip-overs, which includes national television commercials, internet and digital announcements and in-store warnings.
If you have been injured or a loved killed by a faulty product, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.