Ikea's recall effectiveness questioned as dresser kills fourth toddler

WASHINGTON • Jozef Dudek had just been put down for a nap at home in Buena Park, California, when his father went to check on him and made a horrifying discovery - the two-year-old was crushed under an Ikea dresser and could not be revived.

The toddler's death on May 24, the details of which were released for the first time last week, was at least the seventh death of a child attributed to Ikea dressers and chests - and the fourth from the Swedish furniture giant's Malm line. And its occurrence raises questions about the effectiveness of Ikea's massive recall, which the company issued for some 30 million dressers, including the Malm line, in June last year.

The family's lawyer, Mr Alan Feldman, said the Dudeks will likely sue Ikea. The Dudeks did not know about the recall, even though it applied to the dresser they had put in Jozef's room, he said in a statement.

"What makes this death more heartbreaking is the fact that last year's so-called recall was poorly publicised by Ikea and ineffective in getting these defective and unstable dressers out of children's bedrooms," he added.

Last Friday, Ikea offered condolences to the family. "The initial investigation indicates that the chest involved in this incident had not been properly attached to the wall," a company statement said.

The company defended the recall last year and its efforts to publicise it, saying it worked with American media outlets for coverage, launched a national advertising campaign and posted information about the recall prominently online and in its stores.

The most recent campaign took place this summer, Ikea said.

Jozef's story mirrors those of three other toddlers, all about two years old, all dead after Ikea's Malm dressers toppled onto them. The furniture lines were not compliant with the industry safety standard in the United States, which is voluntary, government regulators have said.

Last year, law firm Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig won a US$50-million (S$68-million) settlement for three families whose children had died from toppled Malm furniture.

At least four children have died and 41 have been injured from tipping Malm dressers, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); other Ikea chests have caused three deaths.

According to the CPSC, 97 children died from furniture that tipped over between 2000 and 2015.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'Ikea's recall effectiveness questioned as dresser kills fourth toddler'. Print Edition | Subscribe