California residents who purchased three-drawer Kullen dressers from Ikea might know that a recall was announced on March 4 due to tip-over concerns, but customers may not be aware that the Swedish furniture retailer learned several months earlier that its product failed to meet a revised industry safety standard. The standard was updated after a series of tip-over accidents claimed the lives of at least six children and prompted product liability lawsuits that cost furniture manufacturers more than $96 million.
Ikea blames delay on logistical challenges
Ikea sits on the committee that sets furniture safety standards, which means that the Swedish retailer was likely aware of the pending tip-over revision long before it was announced in August 2019. An Ikea representative responded to questions about the delayed recall by blaming logistical problems and saying that the company had plans to withdraw Kullen dressers from the market long before the standard was revised. The mother of a child killed by an Ikea dresser balked at the furniture retailer’s response and pointed out that removing an item from a website can usually be accomplished almost immediately.
Ikea dressers linked to nine deaths
Almost any dresser has the potential to tip over, but dressers manufactured and sold by Ikea have been linked to a worrying number of fatal accidents involving young children. According to government figures, tip-over accidents kill about two children each month in the United States. Ikea dressers have been involved in at least nine such accidents since 1989. On Jan. 6, the company chose to avoid a jury trial by agreeing to pay the parents of a 2-year-old boy killed by one of its Malm dressers $46 million to settle a product liability lawsuit.
The damages awarded in product liability cases can be high
This settlement reveals that manufacturers and retailers are often prepared to pay considerable sums to avoid arguing product liability cases before a jury. If you or one of your loved ones has been injured by a defective or poorly designed product, personal injury attorneys with experience in this area may be able to pursue civil remedies on your behalf. Attorneys might seek damages to cover your medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. When the defendants in these cases acted egregiously, attorneys may also pursue punitive damages.