US parents of a 2-year-old boy who died after an Ikea dresser fell on him were awarded R660 million in a wrongful death lawsuit
- In 2017, 2-year-old Jozef Dudek died after 32-kilogram recalled Ikea dresser fell on top of him.
- On Monday, it was revealed Ikea agreed to pay the Dudek family a $46 million (R660 million) settlement.
- It's rumoured to be the largest child wrongful death settlement in US history.
- For more visit Business Insider South Africa.
On May 24, 2017, Craig Dudek entered the bedroom where he left his son, Jozef, sleeping only to find the two-year-old pinned beneath an approximately 32-kilogram Ikea "MALM" three-drawer dresser. Despite Craig's attempts to perform CPR on his son, Jozef's injuries to his neck caused him to suffocate and die.
"We were devastated by the loss of our beautiful Jozef as a result of a tip-over of an Ikea Malm dresser. We miss him so much," Jozef's parents, Joleen and Craig Dudek wrote in a statement. "He would be turning 5 years old this April."
Following a lawsuit on behalf of the California toddler, Ikea has agreed to pay $46 million (R660 million) to Jozef's family in what is rumoured to be the largest child wrongful death settlement in US history, according to the law firm representing the family.
In the lawsuit filed against the Swedish furniture retailer and seen by Insider, the Dudek family argued that Ikea knowingly designed and sold furniture that did not meet American Society for Testing and Materials safety standards and failed to adequately warn customers about the tip-over hazards of their furniture despite the multiple injuries and deaths caused by issues with the "MALM" line in the past.
"People don't sit around looking at recall notices - they're living their own lives. It's up to IKEA to notify everyone that bought or may have these dressers," Alan Feldman, the Dudeks' attorney, told Insider. "They need to constantly remind folks that they put 17 million time bombs in the homes of consumers and they have an obligation to get them out."
The lawsuit even pointed to a quote from Lars Petersson, Ikea USA's former president, acknowledging that "drawers are a very tempting playground for children" and that the " the risk of tip-over is very high." (Patterson stepped down from his role as Ikea USA's president in January 2019.)
In 2016, Ikea recalled nearly 29 million chests in the "MALM" series following the death of three children, NBC reported. The Dudeks, who purchased the three-drawer "MALM" dresser in 2008, say they didn't know about the recall and hope the Swedish company will do more to warn consumers about the dangers of their recalled furniture.
"We never thought that a two-year-old could cause a dresser just 30 inches high to topple over and suffocate him. It was only later that we learned that this dresser was unstable by design and did not meet safety standards and that this had happened to other little boys," the Dudeks said in a statement obtained by Insider.
In response to the unprecedented settlement, an Ikea spokesperson told Insider that "while no settlement can alter the tragic events that brought us here" the company is committed to addressing this issue. The company recently launched the Ikea Safer Homes app and plans to host safety workshops in stores and mandatory training for co-workers.
The dangers of falling products are not exclusive to the Swedish furniture giant. According to a 2018 report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there was an estimated annual average of 28,300 emergency department-treated injuries associated with products including televisions, furniture and other appliances from 2015 to 2017 with 68% of those injuries related to furniture "tip-over."
Despite the "favourable result for our clients," Feldman said that the multi-million remuneration is not enough, and demands that all furniture makers ensure their drawers meet "minimum safety standards" and "resist tip-over" - especially Ikea.
"No child should ever die from a furniture tip-over, they are completely preventable. Any 30-inch dresser that can be tipped over by a two-year-old is completely unsafe and defective," Feldman said. "Ikea persisted in behaviour that was dangerously detrimental to children across the country. It's time for them to stand up and tell people about the dangers of the furniture that they sold and get them out of American homes."
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