Jonah Engel Bromwich
Ikea has reached a tentative settlement to pay $50 million to three U.S. families whose young children were killed after the Swedish furniture company's furniture fell on them, lawyers for the families said Wednesday.
The families of Curren Collas, Camden Ellis and Ted McGee, all around age 2, sued after the children were crushed to death by chests or dressers in Ikea's Malm line.
They contended that the unsafe design of the furniture rendered them "inherently unstable and easily tipped over" and that Ikea had consistently refused to meet voluntary national safety standards for the stability of chests and dressers.
"These were three very preventable deaths that never needed to occur if Ikea had simply made dressers that met the voluntary national standard," Alan M. Feldman, a partner with Feldman Shepherd, the law firm in Philadelphia that represents the families, said in a phone interview Thursday. He was referring to the safety protocols set out by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Ikea confirmed the tentative settlement in an email, Reuters reported Thursday.
In June, Ikea, the world's largest furniture seller, announced a recall of 29 million chests and dressers in response to the deadly accidents. At least three other toddlers have been killed in tip-over accidents involving the company's furniture.
A child dies once every two weeks on average in accidents involving toppled furniture or television sets, according to the safety commission.
In a 2014 report, the commission said children were the victims in 84 percent of the 430 deaths reported between 2000 and 2013 from tipped-over televisions, furniture and appliances; about 65 percent of those children — or 234 — were between 1 and 3 1/2 years old.
The settlement represented progress for consumer advocates who had been working since 1989 to hold the company accountable for the deaths of young children.
In a statement Thursday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who had pushed for a recall of the Ikea furniture, applauded the settlement but emphasized that the danger of furniture tip-overs went beyond the company's faulty dressers.
"Until we have effective standards in place, kids will continue to be at risk of injuries and death," the statement said. Klobuchar has introduced legislation to push the commission to adopt stronger consumer safety standards for storage units.