Photo: 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.
“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.
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.
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