The Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has agreed to pay $46 million to the parents of a toddler who was crushed to death by a recalled dresser in May 2017.
The January 6, 2020 settlement resolves a wrongful death lawsuit from Joleen and Craig Dudek, whose son, Jozef, died after Ikea’s popular Malm dresser toppled on top of him in the family’s California home. In 2016, the company reached a $50 million settlement with the families of three other children who died in similar incidents involving the same model of dresser.
The family sued Ikea in state court in Pennsylvania, where the company’s North America headquarters is located, claiming that Ikea knew the dressers were prone to tipping over but failed to warn customers about the unstable design.
According to court documents, Jozef’s father found the boy pinned under the 70-pound dresser in May 2017, while checking on him during a daytime nap. Lawyers for the family said Jozef died later that day of asphyxia caused by compression of the neck.
Ikea began offering free wall-anchoring kits shortly before it recalled the Malm dressers in June 2016, but plaintiffs’ attorneys said the company had not done enough to notify customers who purchased older versions of the furniture before the recall. The Dudeks, who live in Buena Park, California, bought their dresser in 2008 and said they were never alerted about the recall, the lawyers said.
Jozef’s death was believed to be the only one to occur after the Malm’s recall in 2016.
According to the lawsuit, Ikea was aware of the Malm dresser’s defects but never made any changes and continued to sell the model, despite knowing about safer alternative designs that could have prevented it from tipping over.
“Despite actual knowledge of the risk of serious injury or death associated with Ikea furniture, including the Malm line, that failed to meet minimum stability requirements for tip-over prevention, and actual knowledge that most consumers do not secure chests and dressers to a wall, the Ikea defendants chose to market and sell the Malm line in reckless and wanton disregard of the safety of consumers and their children,” the suit said.
An Ikea spokeswoman confirmed the wrongful death settlement in a statement, saying the company had taken steps to raise awareness about potential tip-overs, including required safety training for employees.
“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,” the spokeswoman said. “We remain committed to working proactively and collaboratively to address this very important home safety issue. Again, we offer our deepest condolences.”