Furniture retailer Ikea agreed on Monday to pay $46 million to the family of Jozef Dudek, a California toddler who died in 2017 at age 2 after a Malm dresser tipped over onto him, suffocating him.
The family’s attorneys announced the settlement Monday, and Ikea confirmed the amount, USA Today reported.
In 2016, Ikea paid a total of $50 million to the families of three other children killed by falling dressers, USA Today noted. At least nine children have been killed and dozens injured by falling dressers, most often when a child pulled or climbed on the drawers, tipping the furniture over on top of him or her and either crushing or suffocating the tot.
The same year, Ikea recalled 17.3 million dressers, but not quickly enough to save Jozef, who was the first child killed after the announcement, USA Today said.
The Dudeks filed their lawsuit in 2018, alleging that the company should have reached out to them directly, and that they did not know about the recall until it was too late.
“We miss him so much,” Jozef’s mother, Joleen Dudek, 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.”
As part of the settlement, Ikea will meet with representatives of Parents Against Tip-overs, an advocacy organization fighting for mandatory stability standards for dressers, according to a statement from the Dudeks’ attorneys. The retailer will also broaden consumer outreach about the Malm recall, as well as those on other models.
“We believe this campaign must include a social media campaign, emails to their database of contacts, and additional emails to purchasers of the recalled dressers,” the attorneys’ statement said.
In addition, the Dudeks will donate $1 million of their settlement money to three consumer organizations that have been advocating for more rigorous stability testing for dressers: Kids in Danger, Consumer Reports, and the Consumer Federation of America.
Ikea is open about how its dressers are not necessarily safe unless anchored to the wall. The furniture retailer’s website features a Chest and Dresser Safety Recall page, with instructions on how to make a dresser safe. Customers can request a free wall-anchoring kit, request chest or dresser anchoring, return the item to a store, or request a pickup and refund. So far the company has recalled 17.3 million dressers and chests of drawers, according to its website.
“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 Monday, quoted by The Washington Post. “We remain committed to working proactively and collaboratively to address this very important home safety issue. Again, we offer our deepest condolences.”