IKEA Settles Lawsuits Relating to Defective Dressers for $50 Million
IKEA, the discount Swedish furniture maker, has been the subject of serious criticism for several months for its handling of complaints about the safety of its products. Most recently, the manufacturer has settled wrongful death lawsuits filed by three families, all of whom lost a young child when an IKEA dresser tipped and fell onto the child in their homes.
Early in 2016, IKEA responded to complaints of injury and death caused by its MALM line of dressers by offering customers a wall anchoring kit that allowed them to lash their IKEA furniture to the wall and thus prevent the dressers from tipping over. Unfortunately, the effort to distribute the wall anchor kits was apparently too little, too late, and failed to bring an end to the series of complaints of injuries being reported by IKEA dresser owners. Over time, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) had received reports of dozens of tip-over incidents resulting in eight deaths of young children who had been crushed by IKEA dressers, both from the MALM line and from other lines. In June of 2016, the CPSC and the furniture maker launched a recall effort which included over 29 million items of furniture made by IKEA.
The three families that participated in the recent settlement had all lost a toddler-aged child when an IKEA dresser tipped over onto the child. The families had each filed separate lawsuits against the manufacturer, alleging that IKEA had designed its dressers defectively and failed to ensure that its products were safe for use by consumers prior to selling them. The victims claimed that because the dressers had been defectively designed, they were excessively top-heavy, resulting in an unreasonable risk that the furniture items would tip over with normal use. Additionally, the families claimed that IKEA had been aware of the tip-over risk for years but had failed to take action to warn consumers or make the product design safer. After the court forced IKEA to turn over documents to the plaintiffs which, according to their attorneys, would have proven IKEA’s knowledge of the dangers its products posed, IKEA agreed to settle the families’ claims for a total of $50 million, to be divided among the families. In return, the plaintiffs agreed not to publicly disclose the documents, provided IKEA did not destroy these documents in the event that other families filed suit.
When pursuing product liability claims in New Jersey, it is not always necessary to prove that a company had knowledge of the fact that its product was dangerous, but only that the product was defective, that is, that is was not fit, suitable or safe for its intended purpose, or that its warnings were inadequate. However, being able to show that not only was a product defective , but that a manufacturer was aware of the dangers and did nothing to prevent them, can further increase the liability and potential damages that can be sought by injured customers.
If you have been hurt by a defective product in New Jersey, find out if you have a right to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, designer, or distributor of that product by contacting the experienced and effective personal injury product liability lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs for a consultation on your case, at 973-532-9681.