When people think about Ikea they think about flat boxes of furniture waiting to be assembled, meatballs, and cinnamon rolls. Stores are full of brightly colored items, minimal and modern, designed to look good in a living room or a dorm room. Giant posters detail the company’s efforts to conserve natural resources and give back to the community.
A series of recalls, lawsuits, and deaths attributed to Ikea’s products, however, has tarnished the company’s once-shiny reputation. And a Washington family now counts itself among those grieving the loss of a toddler crushed to death under an Ikea dresser.
Two-year-old Camden Ellis of Bothell, Washington died when an Ikea-manufactured Malm dresser tipped over and landed on him. Camden’s parents tried to revive him with CPR and rushed him to the hospital but the damage had been done. Camden was on a ventilator for four days before his parents had to make the decision that no parent should ever have to make and took him off life support.
They are suing Ikea for, among other things, selling the Malm dresser while being completely aware of the issues pertaining to its stability. Malm, in fact, does come with a wall anchor to help prevent tip-overs; a fact which is not lost on those concerned with the stability of Ikea furniture. They argue that in so doing, Ikea has actually shifted the responsibility for ensuring the safety of its products to those that buy them rather than fixing the problem and enhancing consumer safety.
Ikea, for its part, has told the Philadelphia Inquirer that it doesn’t feel that the stability standards used throughout the furniture industry should apply to its dressers. Lawyers for Camden Ellis’ parents disagree. They argue that “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.”
This is not the first tip-over death that a Malm dresser has been a part of. In fact, it wasn’t until five children had been crushed to death under Ikea’s Malm line that the company issued repair kits for the dressers.
The kits consisted of wall anchors designed to attach the dresser to the wall. It’s almost as if Ikea engineers knew there might be a problem with the stability of the dresser and that it might need further support to prevent an injury.