(ABC NEWS) — In what lawyers believe to be the largest child wrongful death settlement in American history, Ikea is set to pay $46 million to a California family whose son was killed after a dresser tipped over and fell on him.
Two-year-old Jozef Dudek was killed in 2017 when a three-drawer Ikea dresser fell, crushing the child after he was put down for a nap by his father.
“Our clients were extremely safety-conscious. They baby-proofed their home, and they had even secured other furniture in their home to the wall if they thought it presented any risk of tipping over,” Alan Feldman, one of the family’s attorneys, said at a press conference.
“However, when they purchased the three-drawer MALM dresser from Ikea in 2008, they never suspected that this small, short dresser could be an instrument of death,” Feldman continued.
The dresser weighs 70 pounds, according to court documents. Lawyers claimed that Ikea knew that MALM dressers “lacked counterbalancing weight on the back and bottom of the dresser, causing the dresser to be top-heavy and front-heavy, so as to render it unstable,” according to the complaint.
Ikea only recalled the dresser after lawyers from the Feldman Shepard law firm filed lawsuits on behalf of two other families whose children were also killed by the same type of dresser.
Eight children are known to have died when Ikea furniture tipped over. The discount furniture chain recalled a total of 29 million chests and dressers, including 8 million MALM dressers, in 2016.
“We would hope that this settlement raises awareness of this significant public health and safety issue. Tens of thousands of injuries occur each year; this number must be reduced,” another attorney representing the families, Daniel J. Mann, told ABC News in an emailed statement.
Even though consumers must assemble furniture themselves, they should not be responsible for making that furniture safe, said Mann.
“Product liability laws require consumer products to be safe at the time of sale; it should not be up to consumers to make a product safe. Children should be safe in their bedrooms, and furniture must be designed to be stable and tip resistant,” he added.
“While no settlement can alter the tragic events that brought us here, for the sake of the family and all involved, we’re grateful that this litigation has reached a resolution. We remain committed to working proactively and collaboratively to address this very important home safety issue. Again, we offer our deepest condolences,” Ikea said in a statement.
In June 2019, Ikea released a line of tip-over resistant furniture aimed at preventing child deaths and injuries.