Nothing could be more heartbreaking to a parent than the thought of losing their child in a preventable accident. Tragically, four sets of parents have suffered the deaths of their children as the result of flaws in the design of certain pieces of furniture created and sold by Swedish manufacturer IKEA. Recently, the parents were awarded a collective settlement of $50 million to three of the four families that lost a young child when a piece of furniture toppled onto them.
The trouble with IKEA’s MALM line of furniture began years ago, long before the company took any steps to remedy the issue. As far back as 1989, IKEA began to receive reports of serious injuries and deaths resulting from an item from the MALM line falling over and onto a young child. Most of the seriously-injured victims of the defective IKEA dressers have in fact been toddlers. Finally, IKEA took action, but according to safety experts and federal regulators, the action was too little, too late. During the summer of 2015, IKEA announced the necessity of anchoring the MALM dressers and other pieces of furniture to the wall due to the tipping risk, and offered customers a wall anchoring kit through the mail. Many customers did not understand the massive risks their children faced as the result of having an un-anchored dresser in their kids’ bedrooms, however, and either failed to request an anchor kit, or simply didn’t receive one in time. In fact, in at least one case, a child was seriously injured by a tipping MALM dresser after the child’s mother had requested a wall anchoring kit from IKEA, but before the kit was received. Sadly, four children were killed in recent years by a toppling MALM dresser. Finally, in June of 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered IKEA to conduct a recall of the 29 million pieces of furniture from the MALM line, after yet more children were injured or killed.
Three of the four families who lost a child banded together to take action against the retailer, filing a wrongful death lawsuit against IKEA in a Philadelphia court. After apparently-damning evidence surfaced that provided what one attorney considered “100 percent” leverage in favor of the plaintiffs’ arguments that IKEA knew but ignored the risks that MALM furniture posed, the retailer settled. The families will now share the $50 million settlement between themselves, with a portion going to attorneys’ fees. One of the plaintiff parents made her contempt for the discount furniture retailer known after the settlement was announced: “To you, this is another number, a statistic, a business decision. You get to go home to your families at night. I go home to a quiet house that used to be filled with laughter and smiles.”
If you or a loved one have been injured by a defective product in Alabama, contact the dedicated, compassionate, and effective Montgomery personal injury lawyers at McPhillips Shinbaum to determine if you have a claim for damages, at 334-262-1911.