$46 million payment should send a strong message to manufacturers

All too often, manufacturers and retailers let dangerous, defective products into the stream of commerce. This puts the lives and health of consumers at risk.

Sometimes, these products are recalled, but recalls take time and effort. Not every defective product will be returned. Some consumers won’t know about the recall and will continue to use the product. Sometimes, these recalled products even enter the secondary market for used goods.

Recalled products can sometimes cause injuries and deaths. When that happens, one way to hold these companies accountable is to file a product liability lawsuit.

That’s what happened to a California family. Tragically, their two-year-old son was killed by a fallen dresser. The dresser, a three-drawer Malm chest from Ikea, had been recalled for being unduly top-heavy and front-heavy, leading to a tendency to tip over unless it was secured to the wall.

The California family argued that Ikea did not respond appropriately when it learned of the Malm dresser’s tip-over problem. The company had apparently already received 186 reports of tip-over accidents, 91 of which injured children. The dresser was recalled in 2016.

Nevertheless, Ikea failed to notify customers that the Malm dresser had to be anchored to a wall, the family argued. That left people who bought or owned the dresser unaware of the terrible risk.

Their son apparently wasn’t climbing the dresser or horsing around. The fallen dresser suffocated him in his sleep.

Now, Ikea has agreed to pay the family $46 million in compensation for their son’s tragic death. In addition, the settlement requires Ikea to meet with an advocacy organization called Parents Against Tip-Overs and to improve its outreach efforts to people who buy Ikea dressers that are later recalled.

Furniture tip-overs are unfortunately quite common

What happened to this family was not unprecedented. Many pieces of furniture, especially bookshelves, are prone to tip over unless secured to a wall. If you buy furniture and have children, you should make a habit of securing heavy objects to the wall, so they don’t fall and suffocate a child.

The problem is often that an object that is heavy enough to hurt a child is left in a position to fall, particularly onto a climbing child. Kids use dresser drawers as steps to get up to the surface. They often climb bookshelves or other tall furniture. They sometimes dislodge objects like television sets that are unsecured. When these objects tip over, they can land no top of a child who is not strong enough to push them off. This can lead to blunt-force injuries or even suffocation.

Take an inventory of your home furnishings right now. Could you pull anything over? Would anything tip over if a child tried to climb it? Could a TV set or other heavy object be pushed off? If you could make the object tip, it should be secured to a wall.

Wall mounting kits are available at most furniture and hardware stores and don’t take much expertise to install.

Make sure your furnishings won’t tip and fall on a child. These tragedies are entirely preventable.

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