Ikea to pay family $46m after child killed by falling drawers

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Jozef Dudek died after an Ikea Malm dresser toppled over onto himImage source, Dudek Family
Image caption,
Jozef Dudek died after an Ikea Malm dresser toppled over onto him in 2017

The Swedish furniture giant Ikea has agreed to pay $46m (£35m) to the parents of a child who was killed when a chest of drawers fell on him.

Jozef Dudek, 2, suffocated in May 2017 when the company's Malm drawers toppled over at the family's California home.

The item, which weighs 70lbs (32kg), had been recalled a year earlier over safety concerns after three other children were killed.

It is the largest child wrongful death settlement in US history, lawyers say.

"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," a spokeswoman for Ikea said.

"We remain committed to working... to address this very important home safety issue," she added.

In a statement, the child's parents, Joleen and Craig Dudek, said they were "devastated" by the loss of their son.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Malm dressers are seen at an Ikea store in China where they were also recalled in 2016

"We never thought that a two-year-old could cause a dresser just 30 inches (76cm) high to topple over and suffocate him," they said. "It was only later that we learned that [it] was unstable by design."

"We are telling our story because we do not want this to happen to another family," the couple added. They urged anyone who still has a recalled Ikea dresser to return it.

The family also said they would donate $1m of the settlement to groups working to protect children from dangerous products.

In 2016, Ikea recalled millions of Malm chests of drawers in North America over safety concerns. It was the largest recall in the company's history.

Initially, the company warned customers to use wall mounts with them, but the death of a third child prompted the action.

Image source, Feldman Shepherd
Image caption,
Left to right: Camden Ellis, Curren Collas and Ted McGee were killed by falling Ikea dressers

Camden Ellis, 2, Curren Collas, 2, and 23-month-old Ted McGee were all crushed by the product.

In December of that year, the company agreed to pay $50m (£40m) in a combined settlement to the families of the three toddlers.

Under that settlement, Ikea agreed to only sell chests in the US that meet or exceed the national voluntary safety standard for clothing storage units.

The deaths prompted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch an education campaign about the risk of falling chests of drawers.

In 2017, the company re-launched the recall in the US and Canada. It said items in its Malm range and other chests and dressers pose a "serious tip-over and entrapment hazard" if not secured to a wall.

Recent large US compensation awards:

  • In December 2019, the family of a 15-year-old boy who died after a police officer stunned him with a Taser gun settle their wrongful death case for $12m
  • That same month, Sacramento County agrees to pay at least $25m following a 2017 crash involving a sheriff's car that left a 10-year-old girl with permanent brain damage
  • In November 2019, a jury orders tobacco companies RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris to pay more than $157m to a Florida man over the cancer death of his husband
  • In May 2019, a jury in California awards more than $2bn to a couple who said the weedkiller Roundup was responsible for their cancer. The company was planning an appeal
  • In 2017, Johnson & Johnson is ordered to pay $417m to a woman who says she developed ovarian cancer after using products such as baby powder (also subject to appeal)