Furniture retailer Ikea has agreed to pay $46 million to the family of a toddler who died after one of the company’s dressers fell on top him. The settlement is believed to be the largest payout in a wrongful death case for a child in U.S. history, Law360 reported.
Craig Dudek and his wife, Joleen, of Buena Park, California, filed a lawsuit against Ikea in 2018 in Pennsylvania state court, alleging the company did not adequately warn consumers that its Malm dressers could tip over. On May 24, 2017, Dudek says he found their 2-year-old son Jozef pinned under the drawers of Ikea’s Malm dresser. Dudek started CPR until rescue responders arrived. The boy was taken to West Anaheim Medical Center where he was pronounced dead due to neck injuries and asphyxia.
“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 spokeswoman said in a statement. “We remain committed to working proactively and collaboratively to address this very important home safety issue. Again, we offer our deepest condolences.”
Jozef’s death occurred a year after Ikea issued a recall of about 29 million chests and dressers that were prone to tipping over and trapping children. That recall was prompted by reports of six child deaths and nearly 30 injuries from toppled Ikea dressers. In 2016, Ikea agreed to pay $50 million to settle lawsuits from families of three of the deceased children.
The Dudeks claimed that Ikea knew for decades that its dressers had a propensity for falling on top of children, but waited too long to react to reports of deaths and injuries. When the company did issue a recall, it didn’t do enough to ensure word got out to customers who owned the dressers, according to the suit. The Dudeks, in fact, were “Ikea Family” members but claim they were never notified about the recall.
As part of the settlement, Ikea also agreed to make better efforts to inform customers about the recall, and to meet with a consumer advocacy group that is working to get mandatory stability standards on furniture. The Dudeks said they also plan to donate $1 million of the settlement money more rigorous safety testing on dressers.