According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least six children three years old or younger have been killed by an IKEA chest or dresser falling on them.
IKEA is recalling 29 million chests and dressers in response, including around 8 million MALM chests and dressers, along with 21 million other adults’ and children’s chest and dressers. The recalled items, sold through June 2016, include MALM 3-drawer, 4-drawer, 5-drawer, and 6-drawer dresser models.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of the MALM chests and drawers in 2015, but customers were told not to return the products at the time. Instead, they were asked to install a wall anchoring repair kit to prevent the MALM chests and drawers from falling over. IKEA reportedly distributed 300,000 kits to consumers at that time.
The company released a statement early on June 28, stating that, “[t]he recalled chests and dressers are unstable if they are not properly anchored to the wall, posing a tip-over and entrapment hazard that can result in death or injuries to children.”
IKEA is offering customers a free wall-anchoring kit, or if they prefer a full or partial refund for the recalled products. In a statement released on Monday, June 27, IKEA stated that they were offering refunds in this recall, “given the recent tragic death of a third child. It is clear that there are still unsecured products in customers’ homes, and we believe that taking further action is the right thing to do.”
The child mentioned in the statement was a 22-month-old boy from Minnesota who was killed when a dresser fell on top of him.
IKEA will continue to collaborate with the Consumer Product Safety Commission in order to improve product safety to reduce the risk of their products from tipping over. They have removed the recalled products from their websites and are asking retailers to stop selling the models, but if customers want to keep their chests and/or drawers, retailers will send repair crews in order to make sure the products are properly anchored to the wall.
IKEA has an FAQ on the recall on their website, and customers can also call (866) 856-4532 between 9 a.m. and midnight for more information or to participate in the recall.
At The Beasley Firm, we have been at the forefront of products liability law for decades. Starting in the 1970’s, when Jim Beasley Sr. and Scott Bennett wrote the definitive treatise on products liability law: Products Liability And The Unreasonably Dangerous Requirement, it defined the law for the entire United States, and the law identified in that seminal treatise is still valid today.
The state of Pennsylvania has adopted the Second Restatement of Torts with regard to product liability law. In Barnish v. KWI Building Company, 980 A.2d 535 (Pa. 2009), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court explained the elements of a manufacturer’s liability for placing a defective product in the market place, citing the Second Restatement:
. . . we [have] acknowledged our prior adoption of Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, providing for "a plaintiff's right to pursue an action in strict liability against the manufacturer of a product." To bring a Section 402A claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate . . ., that the product was defective, that the defect caused the plaintiff's injury, and the defect existed at the time the product left the manufacturer's control. Barnish, 980 A.2d 535,541.
Section 402A of the Restatement provides:
§ 402A. Special Liability Of Seller Of Product For Physical Harm To User Or Consumer
(1) One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm thereby caused to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if
(a) the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product, and
(b) it is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change in the condition in which it is sold.
(2) The rule stated in Subsection (1) applies although
(a) the seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of his product, and
(b) the user or consumer has not bought the product from or entered into any contractual relation with the seller.
As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has most recently stated in Tincher v. Omega Flex, 104 A.3d 328 (Pa. 2014) one who brings a lawsuit based upon a theory of strict liability must prove that the product is in a “defective condition.” The decision states that:
A plaintiff “may prove defective condition by showing either that (1) the danger is unknowable and unacceptable to the average or ordinary consumer [the so-called “consumer expectations test”], or that (2) a reasonable person would conclude that the probability and seriousness of harm caused by the product outweigh the burden or costs of taking precautions.” [the so-called “risk-utility” test]. Tincher, 104 A.3d 328, 309.
Whether a product was in a defective condition is decided by the jury when the product liability case is presented in court.
At The Beasley Firm, our product liability attorneys have been representing victims since we opened our doors in 1958 as one of the first plaintiff’s firms in Philadelphia. We work with a team of doctors, lawyers, and nurses in order to create the strongest possible case to fight for the results you deserve. Contact us today through our website, or give us a call at (215) 866-2424 to discuss your potential claim.