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From Products Liability Law Daily, December 22, 2016

IKEA agrees to $50M settlement in dresser tip-over cases

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

Following a two-day mediation, IKEA has reached a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuits arising from the accidental deaths of three toddlers. The furniture and housewares retailer agreed to pay $50 million, to be divided evenly among the bereaved families, and pledged additional sums to support tip-over prevention efforts (Feldman Shepherd Press Release, December 21, 2016).

The families of the deceased toddlers filed suit against IKEA, asserting that the unsafe design of the manufacturer’s MALM dressers rendered them inherently unstable and easily tipped over. Additionally, they contended that IKEA had consistently refused to meet voluntary national safety standards for stability of chests and dressers, which other American furniture companies had embraced. Evidence presented in the proceedings revealed that IKEA knew of other deaths and injuries stemming from tip-overs of furniture that failed to meet minimum safety standards, but the company nevertheless refused to re-design its furniture products to be more stable and tip-resistant. IKEA only agreed to halt sales of its MALM dressers and recall various models of non-conforming chests and dressers after the third toddler died. The recall, affecting 29 million units, was issued in June 2016 (CPSC Recall Notice, No. 16-204).

In addition to the $50 million settlement with the families, the agreement provides that IKEA will:

  • donate $50,000 to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, $50,000 to a children’s hospital in Washington State, and $50,000 to a children’s hospital in Minnesota in memory of the deceased children;
  • donate $100,000 to Shane’s Foundation NFP, an organization devoted to children’s safety with a focus on furniture tip-over prevention and education;
  • only sell chests and dressers in the United States that meet or exceed the performance requirements of ASTM F2057-14, the national voluntary safety standard for clothing storage units; and
  • increase funding for its "Secure It" program to raise awareness of the risk of tip-overs, to include national television advertisements, internet and digital communications and in-store warnings.

Attorneys: Allen Feldman (Feldmann Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP).

Companies: IKEA North America

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