Swedish furniture giant Ikea has agreed to pay $46 million to the family of a toddler who was killed in 2017 by a falling dresser. Feldman Shepherd, the family's legal firm, says the payout is the largest wrongful death settlement regarding one child in American history.
After 2-year-old Jozef Dudek's death in May 2017, the Dudek family hired the Feldman Shepherd legal team, who represented the families of three other children killed by Malm dresser tipovers: Curren Collas of West Chester, Pennsylvania; Camden Ellis of Snohomish, Washington; and Ted McGee of Apple Valley, Minnesota. Ikea ended up paying $50 million in settlements to these three families.
In June 2016, Ikea agreed to a recall of Malm dressers as well as other furniture that contained similar safety and stability defects. 17.3 million dressers ended up being recalled. Dudek was the first child killed after the recall was announced.
Feldman Shepherd said the recall was poorly publicized.
"Jozef's death was completely avoidable, had IKEA adhered to safe design standards," said Feldman. "Last year's so-called recall was poorly publicized by IKEA and ineffective in getting these defective and unstable dressers out of children's bedrooms. It's terrifying that there are millions more of these dressers in homes across the country, which may cause more harm and anguish in the future."
Ikea issued an apology for Dudek's death.
"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," an Ikea spokesperson said. "Product safety is a top priority for Ikea and at the core of the design process every day. Again, we offer our deepest condolences to the family."
Since 2016, Ikea says it has destroyed 420,000 returned Malm dressers and provided more than a million anchoring kits to customers. Ikea said it aggressively promoted the recall, including through a national television campaign, direct emails to customers, and through ads.
Ikea has promised to broaden its outreach as part of the settlement. The company will meet with representatives of Parents Against Tip-Overs, an advocacy group lobbying for safer furniture designs.
Ikea dressers have been linked to the deaths of at least nine children.
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