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IKEA to Pay $50 Million for Death of 3 Children

The Consumerist reports six months after IKEA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of more than 29 million topple-prone Malm dressers now linked to four deaths, the furniture maker has agreed to pay $50 million to three of the affected families.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that IKEA reached the settlement in three wrongful death lawsuits after two days of mediation with the families.

The lawsuits — the first of which was supposed to go to court next year — accused the company of continuing to sell the dressers despite being aware they posed a tip-over danger.

For its part, IKEA contended that the parents of the children — a two-year-old boy from Washington, 22-month-old from Minnesota, and a two-year-old boy from Pennsylvania — were negligent in their deaths for failing to anchor the dressers to the wall.

The company agreed to the settlement this week, shortly after it handed over documents it had fought to keep confidential.

A lawyer for the families said that the documents provided “100%” leverage in reaching the settlement. As part of the settlement, the families must return the documents to IKEA, and the company is prohibited from destroying them.

“That was important to us and to the families,” Daniel Mann, who also represents the parents, tells the Inquirer. “In the event there are other children this happens to, their families will be able to see what we have seen.”

In addition to the $50 million that will be split between the three families, IKEA has agreed to give $100,000 to a Chicago nonprofit focused on tip-over awareness and make $50,000 donations to three children’s hospitals in communities where the boys lived.

A rep for IKEA did not provide comment to the Inquirer. Consumerist has reached out to the company and will update when we hear back.

The Inquirer reports that the settlement isn’t the first related to tip-over deaths for IKEA. In 2008, the company paid $2.3 million to the parents of a 3-year-old girl who was killed after an IKEA dresser fell on her, and in 2009, the company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to the family of another 3-year-old when a dresser tipped over.

IKEA’s recent dresser tip-over issues began in June when the company, along with the CPSC, took the unprecedented step in recalling 29 million top-heavy Malm and other models of dressers and chests linked to the deaths several children. Three deaths were initially linked to the Malm dressers, and three to other dressers.

The recall came after IKEA offered repair kits and wall anchors to customers as part of a repair-initiative that just wasn’t getting the job done, as evidenced by the deaths of several small children.

Last month, the CPSC updated it records, confirming a fourth death linked to the Malm dresser. According to the CPSC’s updated notice, the death occurred in Sept. 2011 when a two-year-old boy from Woodbridge, VA, died after an unanchored MALM 3-drawer chest tipped over, and trapped the child between the dresser drawers.

In addition to the four deaths, IKEA received reports of 41 tip-over incidents involving the MALM chests and dressers, resulting in 17 injuries to children between the ages of 19 months and 10 years old.

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