The parents of a 2-year-old boy who was killed when an Ikea dresser crushed him three years ago have secured a $46 million settlement from the Swedish furniture store, lawyers said Monday.
Attorneys with Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig believe the settlement they announced is the largest child wrongful death recovery in U.S. history. The settlement stems from a 2018 lawsuit from California residents Joleen and Craig Dudek, the parents of Jozef Dudek. Jozef died after a dresser fell on him and crushed his neck and caused him to suffocate, according to court documents.
The Dudek settlement comes a few months after parents-turned-activistsfor not doing enough to protect children from its furniture.
"We will continue to seek justice for the families we represent who have been victimized by dangerously unstable dressers, and to more broadly support the efforts of parents, consumer advocates, government agencies and legislators to improve the design safety of furniture used by and for children," the law firm's Alan Feldman said in a statement.
Consumer advocates said Ikea's dressers, specifically the MALM line, caused 10 deaths in recent years.
"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," Ikea 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."
In 2016, Ikea offered full refunds or free anchoring repair kits for all 17.3 million chests, dressers or bureaus sold in the U.S. since 1985. The largest recall in the company's history followed a public information campaign by Ikea and the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging consumers to anchor Ikea dressers to a wall.
As part of the Dudek settlement, Ikea will meet with an advocacy group that pushes for stabilizing mechanisms for dressers. The Dudeks said they will donate $1 million of the settlement to consumer advocacy groups Kids in Danger, Consumer Reports and Consumer Federation of America.
The Dudeks on Monday urged anyone who still has a recalled Ikea dresser to return it, adding that they're "telling our story because we do not want this to happen to another family."
"We never thought that a two-year-old could cause a dresser just 30 inches high to topple over and suffocate him," the parents said in a joint statement. "It was only later that we learned that this dresser was unstable by design and did not meet safety standards, and that this had happened to other little boys."
The Dudek settlement is different from a $50 million deal the law firm announced for the parents of children who died in tipping accidents in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Washington state. In those cases, each of the victims were 2-year-old boys. Ikea donated $150,000 to children's hospitals among other moves as part of the $50 million settlement.
Furniture tipping deaths are more frequent than one might think. A person is injured or killed every 24 minutes when a piece of furniture, appliance or television tips over, according to the product safety commission. Furniture tipping involves a child dying about every two weeks, the group said.