Why Ikea Is Responsible When Its Furniture Tips Over
Injuries Caused by Ikea Furniture Tipping
Ikea recently recalled 29 million dressers, ponied up $50 million to victims, and donated $250,000 to charities and hospitals enough after its furniture tipped over and killed several children
. Fundamental product liability law
, which deals with product safety and manufacturer responsibility, forms the reason that Ikea was ultimately responsible for the deaths caused by its defective furniture
Manufacturers Are Responsible for Making Safe Products
Simply put, manufacturers of furniture are held to a standard regulated by the government to ensure products meet safety standards. Those safety standards usually meet or exceed consumer expectations, but should never dip below them. When they do, product recalls are supposed to catch most, if not all, before them landing in consumer homes. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), current laws prevent any company or individual from selling products, including dressers, that are subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a company or a mandatory recall mandated by the CSPC.
Those laws applied to Ikea
As of today, dressers sold by Ikea and other furniture stores in America are not governed by a mandatory stability standard. Furniture manufacturers are not legally required to conduct safety testing before marketing their products; they operate under a voluntary safety standard. Some manufacturers meet that standard, while others do not. ASTM International
, an organization focused on product safety and the standardization of manufacturing processes, has more than 12,000 standards in its database to date. Here, we zero in on the ASTM's Subcommittee F15.42 on Furniture Safety
and how following it could have saved three lives.
F2057: Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units
The ASTM approved this standard two decades ago. These specs address tipovers and how to test finished clothing storage units for tipover hazards. It states:
- Dressers cannot tip over when tested with a 50-pound weight hanging from the top drawer;
- Furniture must remain stable when all dresser drawers are fully opened to 90 degrees;
- Wall restraints that meet or exceed ASTM Standard F3096 are to be included with furniture;
- Tipover warning labels are to be affixed in a conspicuous area that depict ways consumers can avoid tipping hazards; and
- Furniture 27 inches tall should meet these standards, according to a recent revision. (Before, it was 30 inches.)
Ikea allegedly failed to adhere to these voluntary standards, and consequently may have caused three families to lose their children.
Consumers Must Know About Recalls and Repair Programs
One area where Ikea lagged was in its process of notifying consumers about recalled MALM three-drawer dressers
and other affected clothing storage units. In July 2015, Ikea rolled out a repair program for the chests and clothing storage units that provided consumers a wall mounting kit to secure their MALM three-drawer dressers along with other chests and dressers offered by the company. Not only were scores of consumers not made aware of this program, some who participated received wall mounts without instructions, which meant some parents had no clue how to properly secure their dressers to the wall. Product liability
attorneys who have successfully litigated cases contended that deaths occurred before Ikea made the wall mounting kits available. All told, consumers who are not privy to the recall still exist today, and Ikea has a responsibility to find these consumers before more deaths occur.
Ikea Has a Duty to Care
Simply put, Ikea cannot completely circumvent product liability
laws as they apply to consumer safety. A duty to care arises when they produce and sell products that come with some calculated risks
like tipovers. That duty of care states that:
- They must provide instructions for how to properly assemble their products;
- They are required to provide consumers a means to return furniture items if found to be defective;
- They are required to disclose known hazards either in writing, or by affixing a label to the product; and
- They must disclose recalls that are known to exist or as soon as they are announced to governing bodies.
Laws protect consumers who purchase and use clothing storage units and chests produced by Ikea in the exact manner they were designed for. If consumers are injured due to products
with preventable flaws that were reasonably known by the manufacturer, and those products were sold regardless.
Ikea Furniture Injury Liability
What is disconcerting is how one family referenced in the above Ikea lawsuit
actually registered for warranty and recall information, yet the company still failed to notify them at any point. The furniture they bought eventually tipped over and killed their son; this is literally the definition of negligence. Ikea and other manufacturers and designers of furniture will continue to be liable for consumer injuries and deaths as long as they continue producing defective furniture without proper warning labels or hazard identification systems in place—and as long as it fails to properly notify and recall that defective furniture. If you purchased Ikea furniture, specifically dressers in the MALM line
, and you or your child
were injured or killed due to tipovers, a compassionate, experienced product liability lawyer might help you recover compensation
—and punish Ikea so that no other parents have to live through the same tragedy as you and so many others have. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900