Ikea has recalled about 27 million chests and dressers because they can tip over and crush children if they are not anchored to the wall. In 2014, two children died when Ikea’s Malm chests fell on them, a two year old boy from Pennsylvania and an almost two year old boy from Washington. In addition, three other deaths have occurred since 1989 from other accidents involving other models of Ikea chests and dressers in which children were crushed by the furniture.
Consumers who have the affected chests and dressers are not supposed to return the furniture. Instead, they should order free wall anchoring kits for the chests and dressers. Until the pieces of furniture are anchored to the wall, they should be moved into closets or other areas where they cannot be accessed by children.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), furniture and television tip-overs have been a top concern for several years. Tragically, on average, a child in the U.S. dies every two weeks and is injured every 24 minutes in the U.S. because of furniture or televisions tipping over. There are approximately 38,000 emergency room visits each year from furniture tip-overs. Unfortunately, deaths are increasing, possibly because consumers who purchase flat-screen televisions place old television sets on unsuitable furniture.
The CPSC is pushing for the entire industry to make more stable furniture. It is also attempting to educate the public about the issue, but says that it is tough to expect consumers with small children to anchor their furniture to the walls because they may live in rental homes or there may be issues with the walls. Many manufacturers include restraints or wall anchors when they sell furniture, but many consumers are not aware of the risk and do not install them.
In spite of the massive recall, Ikea’s actions have upset some. When Ikea and federal regulators announced the recall, they called it a “repair program” and not a recall. Some safety advocates and former regulators say that the issue isn’t merely semantics – they say that the word “recall” gets a lot more attention from consumers. In addition, they allege that failing to use the word “recall” downplays the dangers of the product. Some news outlets reported the repair program as a recall, but later removed the word “recall” at the request of Ikea.
By labeling the action taken as a repair action, Ikea also avoided being added to the CPSC’s online database of product recalls as well as its annual recall report to Congress. Some experts have also speculated that Ikea may not have wanted to use the word “recall” for liability reasons. Months of negotiations occurred between the CPSC and Ikea before the announcement was made. Neither the CPSC nor Ikea would comment on the negotiations that led to the language labeling the action as a “repair action.” Ikea is currently facing one lawsuit over the issue. The mother of the toddler who was killed by his dresser in Pennsylvania has sued the company.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that any company which manufactures and sells a consumer product should be held responsible if that product harms a consumer. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, wrongful death damages, and more. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous consumer product in the San Francisco-Oakland area, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco Dangerous Products Attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She will provide you with a free consultation on your case.