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Photo Credit: IKEA

In a landmark settlement, IKEA has agreed to pay the family of a two-year-old California boy $46 million after one of their dressers tipped over and caused him fatal injuries. The family’s attorneys believe this is the largest settlement related to a child’s wrongful death case in United States history.

Jozef Dudek of Buena Park, California, died at age two in May of 2017 after being fatally injured by an accidental tip-over of a Malm IKEA dresser, with the cause of death determined to be suffocation from injuries to the neck. Jozef’s parents, Joleen and Craig Dudek, filed the lawsuit in 2018, after he became the eighth child to die from injuries from an unsecured IKEA dresser. He was also the first child to die after IKEA issued a massive recall of millions of their dressers in November 2017.

In their lawsuit, the Dudeks claimed they never received notice about the recall before their son’s accident and death, a recall which had offered consumers the option of a refund or a kit to anchor the dresser to a wall. IKEA re-announced and re-publicized the recall after Jozef’s death. The lawsuit alleged that IKEA knew its Malm furniture was problematic but failed to fix it.

This $46 million settlement comes after IKEA dressers have been linked to the deaths of at least nine other children and dozens of other injuries, according to USA Today. Typically, these incidents occur when a child pulls on the drawers of a dresser, causing it to tip forward and topple over. The Dudeks’ lawsuit claimed that the dressers did not meet an industry standard for stability.

“We never thought that a two-year old could cause a dresser just 30” high to topple over and suffocate him,” said Jozef’s parents. “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.”

In a statement, IKEA said, “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.” The company has also agreed, as part of the settlement, to meet with the consumer advocacy group Parents Against Tip-Overs to consider better stability standards for their furniture, as well as broadening consumer outreach about IKEA dresser recalls.

Do you own a recalled IKEA dresser?

If you have a Malm dresser sold between 2002 and 2016, it’s likely it’s among the recalled IKEA dressers. However, there are other lines of recalled IKEA products as well, so you can check all recalled dressers and chests on the IKEA website. The recall allows you to return the item or request a wall anchoring kit. Safety experts suggest getting rid of the dresser altogether, because of concerns it may not get anchored or will later be given away or sold to someone unaware of the recall. If you currently have an unanchored dresser, ensure it is out of reach of children until it’s safely anchored to a wall.

If you or a loved one suffered injury or wrongful death from a defective product, talk to the product liability attorneys at Wagner & Wagner, Attorneys at Law. We protect your right to compensation and hold negligent companies responsible. Call us today at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and all surrounding counties.