The mother of a 2-year-old West Chester boy who was crushed and killed beneath an IKEA dresser last year has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit, claiming the retail giant's bureau was "defective and dangerous."
Jackie Collas, who was the focus of an Inquirer report earlier this year on the growing threat of furniture and television tip-overs, claims IKEA failed to warn of the danger or provide proper safety features.
"We believe this is a catastrophic and preventable injury," said Collas' attorney, Dan Mann of Philadelphia. He said that if the dresser "had been designed properly and sold with adequate warnings, this accident would not have happened."
Collas found her son Curren lifeless beneath his overturned dresser Feb. 25, 2014. She believes Curren climbed onto the drawers of the dresser, causing it to tip over onto him.
The dresser, part of IKEA's popular MALM line, was purchased from the company's Conshohocken store in 2011.
The suit, filed Thursday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, contends IKEA should have been aware of the threat of tip-overs and made the product safer.
Asked for comment on the suit, IKEA, which has its U.S. headquarters in Conshohocken, issued a statement expressing "sincerest condolences to the Collas family." It said its products are extensively tested and its dressers are safe when "permanently attached to the wall, in accordance with the warnings and instructions."
About 38,000 people are hurt in furniture tip-overs in the United States each year. As The Inquirer reported in February, children are the most vulnerable. In 2011, tip-overs killed 49 children nationwide - 21 more than the year before, data gathered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission show.
Experts are unsure why the numbers are spiking, though some believe sales of flatscreen televisions have led families to place bulky sets atop furniture unable to carry the weight, creating a volatile mix.
While many TV and furniture manufacturers subscribe to safety standards designed to make their products more stable, those guidelines are voluntary.
Collas said her lawyer has advised her to not comment since the suit was filed. But the mother of four, who is expecting her fifth child, has previously said she hopes IKEA will issue a recall of the MALM dresser.
She has said neither she nor her husband remembered if Curren's dresser came with a tip restraint, a device meant to affix the product to a wall. The suit claims any warning labels or restraints were insufficient.
IKEA has previously said that MALM dressers are meant to be secured to a wall and that if they aren't, they can become unstable. The company has said it is aware of two incidents where children were fatally injured by falling MALM dressers, both in which restraints appear to have not been used.
The family is seeking financial compensation for funeral and medical expenses as well as for the emotional distress experienced by Jackie Collas.