Wrongful death lawsuit dismissed against furniture trade group
Meghan DeLong previously settled with IKEA on claims its Hemnes eight-drawer dresser, like the one pictured, tipped over and killed her son.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. - A wrongful death lawsuit filed against the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), a trade group of furniture makers and importers, has been officially dismissed.
Meghan DeLong filed the civil action suit May 2019 against AHFA and the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) after her 2-year-old son Connor was killed by a falling Ikea Hemnes dresser in 2017. (The case was settled with an Ikea for an undicsloed amount.)

DeLong sued AHFA and ASTM for their alleged failure to alter or recommend changes to a voluntary furniture safety standard the lawsuit claims was inadequate in protecting children against tip-over incidents. The initial suit claims the Hemnes passed the ASTM F2057 "good test" and that the voluntary standard, supported and "encouraged" by AHFA, was not only inadequate, "but knowingly misled the entire furniture industry, United States government and American consumers" into a false sense of security. The original lawsuit sought more than $50 million in damages.

AHFA motioned to dismiss the suit, saying the dresser had not been anchored to the wall per the manufacturer's instructions, and that there was no allegation that Ikea was a member of either AHFA or ASTM. See the full motion here.

"AHFA appreciates the judge’s thoughtful and well-reasoned opinion in this case, which concluded with his determination that neither AHFA nor ASTM International had a role in Conner DeLong’s tragic death," said AHFA CEO Andy Counts.

The judge noted that even though AHFA encourages members to comply with its stability standard, it has no actual authority to force compliance.

AHFA plans to carry on with its "We Comply" campaign, which hopes to raise awareness of the voluntary stability standard. The campaign urges retail stores to only sell furniture that complies with the standard, as well as asking manufacturers to add compliance details to their websites and product descriptions.
In August 2019,  the standard expanded to include clothing storage furniture 27 inches and taller, as opposed to 30 inches and higher previously, and incorporates two new warning labels.

To comply with the standard, all clothing storage furniture 27 inches and taller must pass two stability tests, carry a permanent warning label and be shipped with tip restraints and instructions for installing them. All manufacturers of clothing storage furniture should obtain a copy of ASTM F2057-19, at astm.org/Standards/F2057.htm.


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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].