Earlier this month, a Buena Park toddler was killed when an Ikea Malm-style three-drawer dresser fell and crushed him. The California boy’s death is the eighth death linked to Ikea’s popular line of dresser drawers. Shortly after the boy’s death, the furniture giant issued a recall for nearly 30 million of its chests and drawers. According to the recall, the dressers can tip over fairly easily if they are not properly anchored to the floor or wall. It seems as though the strength of a two-year-old is enough to topple one of the recalled dressers. Ikea has urged anyone who owns a recalled dresser to anchor them to the wall or return the merchandise to the nearest store.
Victims who have been injured – or lost a loved one – because of the dangerous Ikea dresser may be entitled to compensation. Companies who design, manufacture, and/or sell merchandise have an obligation to make sure that their products are safe. When products are inherently unsafe companies may be financially responsible for any damages that result. The families of the eight children who were killed by Ikea dressers are probably discussing whether or not they will pursue a product liability lawsuit against the company.
In California, individuals who are harmed by a defective product have the option of filing a product liability lawsuit to recover compensation from the company that designed, manufactured, and/or sold the product. There are three primary types of defective products that can be the basis for a civil action: design defect, manufacturing defect, and failure to warn.
Design Defect. A design defect exists when a product, based on the way it is designed, is inherently dangerous. The Ikea Malm dresser that is the subject of the recall will probably be classified as having a defective design. The dresser, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable way, is dangerous because it tips over easily. This probably does not have anything to do with the way the dresser was manufactured. Instead, the dresser’s actual design is defective. This could be due to improper measurements, calling for inadequate or improper materials, or failing to require certain hardware.
Manufacturing Defect. A manufacturing defect exists when a product is not built to its specifications. In some cases, a product will come off of the manufacturing line and be different from others manufactured at the same time. In other cases, a manufacturer will deviate from the blueprints and use materials that are uncalled for and, ultimately, unsafe. The Ikea Malm dresser could be an example of a manufacturing defect if the dresser was not built according to its specifications. Perhaps the manufacturer failed to include certain hardware or chose the wrong type of wood for the product.
Failure to warn. A company may be financially liable for injuries when they fail to warn consumers about potential risks of using a product. Companies do not have to warn about risks that should be common sense, but rather risks that may not be obvious to the reasonable user. If Ikea knew about the dresser’s tendency to tip over, it should have included a warning with the product. However, simply providing a warning may not always be enough to limit liability.
Will a Recall Limit a Company’s Liability?
Just because a company recalls a product does not automatically mean that they are in the clear. Companies can still be liable for injuries that are caused by their defective and/or dangerous products, even after issuing a recall. However, just because a company issues a recall does not necessarily mean that a victim’s product liability case will be successful. The victim must still be able to establish the essential elements of their product liability claim. In most cases, a victim will be required to prove:
- They used a product the defendant company designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold;
- They used the product as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable way; and
- That product contained a dangerous defect; and
- The defect caused them to suffer an injury or harm.
The fact that a recall has been issued can be used as evidence in a product liability case, but will not automatically impose civil liability on the defendant company.
Experienced Los Angeles Product Liability Attorney
The families who have suffered the loss of their children because of the Ikea dresser may be seriously considering taking legal action. They have likely consulted with an experienced product liability attorney in their local area for more information. If you have suffered an injury because of a defective product in Los Angeles, do not hesitate to contact Joshua W. Glotzer, APC. For more than two decades, Mr. Glotzer has been helping Los Angeles-area accident victims recover millions in compensation for their injuries. He has successfully handled thousands of complex claims, including those for defective product injuries. Call his Los Angeles office today for more information about how he can help you, too.
Joshua W. Glotzer, APC