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Is your IKEA dresser a safety hazard? Child deaths linked to IKEA MALM dresser.

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On November 4, 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) announced that a fourth child’s death was found to be related to defects associated with the IKEA MALM chests and dressers.  According to the CPSC, these chests and dressers are unstable if not properly anchored to the wall.  This instability has led to a serious tip-over and entrapment hazard.  This hazard has contributed to the tragic deaths of at least four children and, potentially, as many as twenty.  IKEA has issued a recall for these chests and dressers, of which over 29 million were sold.  If you have purchased one of these chests or dressers, you should contact IKEA immediately in order to receive a refund or obtain a wall-anchoring repair kit.

Are the IKEA dressers safe for children?

As with many product issues, the question becomes whether the company or seller of the product is liable for the hazards?  In IKEA’s case, the answer is difficult to determine.  Illinois law provides that when a product is used in its intended manner it should not cause any injury.  If an injury is caused during use of the product in its intended manner, then the manufacturer is “strictly liable” for any damages resulting from said injury and must compensate the injured party for their loses.  Conversely, if the product is used in a manner that is not approved or in not foreseeable, the manufacturer can generally not be found liable.

Here, IKEA will argue that the product was not being used in the manner intended by the company.  First, IKEA will argue it intended for each of the dressers and chests to be anchored to the wall in order to prevent tip-over.  To support this position, IKEA will point out that it provided a wall anchor with every dresser and chest it sold.  However, that is not the end of the inquiry, as those injured will argue that IKEA should have reasonable foreseen that many of its customers would not use the provided wall anchor and, thus, and, thus, should have better designed their product to be used without any anchor.  Essentially arguing that with or without a wall anchor, the product should not easily tip-over.

Both of these dueling arguments have merit.  The question for the jury will likely come down to whether IKEA effectively warned its customers of the consequences of not anchoring these dressers and chests to the wall.  Specifically, did IKEA provide more warning for this product than other products that were more difficult to tip over?  Did IKEA’s packaging and instructions adequately warn the customers of the danger?  The answers to questions like these are difficult to predict, but we will all be watching to see how these cases are resolved.

Regardless of how these matters turn out, it is impossible to not feel for all the families who have suffered from unimaginable tragedy as a result of these dressers.  Our thoughts are with those families and their loved ones.

If you or someone you care about has suffered from injuries relating to a defective product, contact one of the experienced attorneys at Hipskind & McAninch for a FREE CASE CONSULTATION at 618.641.9189 | 314.312.2930 | info@hm-attorneys.com

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