The parents of a Washington state toddler who died after being pinned beneath a toppled Ikea dresser have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the furniture giant, claiming Ikea sold the dresser despite knowing it was unstable.
Filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, the lawsuit by the parents of 2-year-old Camden Ellis of Bothell is the second in less than a year against Ikea stemming from a fatal tip-over of a Malm dresser. A similar suit was filed by the mother of Curren Collas, a West Chester 2-year-old, who died in February 2014 when a dresser tipped onto him.
Ikea cited the deaths of both boys when the company and the Consumer Product Safety Commission in July jointly announced a "repair program" involving 27 million dressers. The company said the dressers could become unstable if not secured to the wall, and offered to send replacement restraint kits to customers who bought them.
While a repair program, under the safety commission's laws, is a type of recall, Ikea has taken pains to not use that word, stressing that it has not offered to buy back or replace the units.
According to the latest lawsuit, Camden was pinned beneath a three-drawer Malm on June 11, 2014. His father, Charles, found his son, lifted the dresser off him, and shouted for his wife, Crystal Borm, who began to perform CPR, the suit says.
Camden was taken to the hospital and remained on a ventilator for four days. His parents then removed him from life support.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for, among other things, medical expenses, funeral expenses, Camden's pain and suffering, and the family's emotional distress.
Ikea, a Swedish company with U.S. headquarters in Conshohocken, declined to comment Wednesday, citing a policy against discussing ongoing litigation. In a statement, it said: "The safety of our customers is the highest priority at Ikea. We continue to work cooperatively with the CPSC on the important issue of tip-over safety."
Lawyer Alan Feldman, who is representing both the Ellis and Collas families, said Malm dressers are inherently unstable and Ikea, which provides tip restraints to anchor the dressers to the wall, has placed the burden for making them safe on consumers.
"They've got it backwards," he said. "When you are familiar with how a product is used, when you have intimate and actual knowledge that tip-overs of your furniture can easily occur and have occurred dozens of times, you can only stick your head in the sand for so long."
The lawsuit also accuses Ikea of designing and selling dressers that do not meet the furniture industry's safety standard for stability. (In an October statement to The Inquirer, Ikea acknowledged that it does not believe its dressers have to comply.)
Furniture tip-overs - most often from unsecured dressers and televisions - lead to more than 38,000 emergency-room visits in the United States each year, according to the CPSC.