A coalition of safety advocates hammered Ikea on Wednesday for what they called a lack of transparency, pointing to the company's refusal to comply with a judge's order to hand over documents related to its June recall of 29 million dressers.
"The biggest problem has been Ikea resisting a recall, and doing that for over a year," said Will Wallace of Consumers Union, the policy and action division of Consumer Reports. "And we see moves like this one as indicating that it's still fighting against the kind of transparency that consumers need."
The Inquirer reported this week that Ikea missed a court-imposed Aug. 19 deadline to give plaintiffs in a related civil case the records from its recall negotiations with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A Philadelphia judge ordered the company to share the records with lawyers for the mother of Curren Collas, a 2-year-old from West Chester who died in 2014 when an Ikea dresser from the popular, low-cost Malm line tipped onto him.
Ikea and federal regulators cited Collas' death and five others since 1989 in announcing the recall in June. The company listed more than 150 dressers sold over the last two decades at risk of tipping, and for most is offering full refunds.
According to an index filed in court, the records Ikea has refused to turn over include results of internal dresser tests, and scores of emails and letters among the parties' attorneys. Safety and legal experts have said the company's resistance is unusual.
On Wednesday, the safety groups - Consumers Union; the Consumer Federation of America; and Kids in Danger, a Chicago nonprofit and safety advocacy group - said they were concerned Ikea's "record of pushing back against regulator and court requests" was putting consumers at risk.
Attorneys for the Collas family have asked that Ikea be fined $1,000 a day until it complies with Judge John Younge's order.
Ikea is appealing the matter in Superior Court, where the company has asked to suspend the issue pending the outcome.
The company's attorneys did not return requests for comment this week. They have contended in court filings that the documents are protected because they were provided in a voluntary negotiation with regulators.
Younge has scheduled a hearing on that motion for Sept. 14.
Ikea has said it will not comment on civil litigation.
In a statement released after the consumer groups' release Wednesday, the company said: "Ikea continues to work collaboratively with regulators, consumer groups, and consumers themselves to ensure that the recall has the maximum impact. We will continue to do all we can to ensure as many consumers as possible understand the risk of furniture tip-over."