Ikea will pay $46 million to the parents of a California toddler who was killed when a “Malm” dresser fell on him in 2017.
Jozef Dudek, 2, was killed in his Buena Park home when he climbed onto the dresser and it fell. Just a year earlier, Ikea had announced a recall of that dresser after it had been linked to the deaths of four other children.
More than 17 million dressers were recalled and the company gave refunds or provided customers with a kit to anchor the dresser to a wall if they chose to keep it.
However, the Dudeks were never contacted by Ikea, according to their attorney. The family sued, citing that Ikea knew about problems with the product for years before their son’s death.
The Dudek’s settlement is the largest ever in the U.S. in a wrongful death case of a child, according to the Dudek family's attorney. Ikea also paid out $50 million to three families who brought similar lawsuits in 2016.
"We miss him so much," Joleen Dudek, Jozef's mother, told USA Today. "He would be turning 5 this year in April. We never thought that a 2-year-old could cause a short 30-inch dresser to tip over and suffocate him. It was only later that we learned that this dresser was designed unstable and did not meet safety standards and that this had happened to other little boys."
Ikea said it has since improved its recall process to better reach customers.
“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,” the company 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."
A child dies every two weeks in the U.S. from furniture or televisions tipping over, according to data gathered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The CPSC recommends anchoring heavy furniture to the wall, installing drawer stops in dressers, placing TV sets on low, sturdy bases and not placing items that children might want to grab (such as remotes or toys) on top of high furniture.