Parents to File Lawsuit Against IKEA for the Death of Minnesota Toddler Ted McGee
A federal safety regulation investigation is underway following fatal injuries sustained by Minnesota toddler Ted McGee, who was crushed to death by an IKEA MALM dresser last February. This is now the third child death associated with IKEA MALM dressers, which have been identified as being unstable and a safety hazard to consumers, especially young children.
This past February 22-month-old Ted died when the IKEA dresser tipped over onto him; his parents did not hear the dresser fall, nor did they hear the child scream. After checking up on Ted during his nap, the parents discovered the six-dresser bureau toppled over onto him. First responders were unable to resuscitate the child. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and IKEA are investigating the incident.
As a result of this tragic event, , Ted’s parents will be filing a wrongful death lawsuit, hoping to persuade IKEA to recall its MALM dressers in order to prevent more child fatalities. This will be the third lawsuit filed in connection with IKEA MALM dressers within the past two years. The other two lawsuits also involve child deaths caused by tip-overs. In February 2014, Philadelphia area toddler Curren Collas was crushed by an IKEA MALM dresser. In June of the same year, Washington state toddler Camden Ellis also died after being pinned beneath a three-drawer version of the MALM dresser.
IKEA’s “Repair” Program
Following the string of deaths linked to the MALM dressers, IKEA announced a “repair” program, offering wall fasteners rather than addressing the inherent instability of the dressers. Many feel that these measures are not enough and don’t really address the bigger issue at hand—that the furniture is unstable by design and doesn’t meet minimum industry standards. Some problems cited with IKEA’s repair program (and the idea of “repairing” the furniture in general) include:
- Parents may not know about the repair kits (as was the case with Ted McGee’s parents)
- Furniture anchor kits often do not contain necessary hardware
- Renters may not be allowed to make holes in walls
- Tip-overs can happen in other residences, not just the child’s residence (for instance, if the child visits a home where the furniture isn’t secured)
- According to IKEA 27 million units are affected, yet IKEA has only issued about 300,000 repair kits
Attorney Alan Feldman, who represents the McGee family, says that the repair program is “insufficient” and that “most people don’t or can’t fasten furniture to their walls”. He argues that the repair program misses the point and that safety needs to be designed into the product itself. For instance, the McGee family was renting their home at the time of the incident and weren’t allowed to put holes in the walls of their residence. Like many others, the McGees were unaware that any such repair program even existed.
Safety Advocate Groups Respond to the Ted McGee Death with Poignant Letter to the CSPC
In response to Ted McGee’s tragic death, a group of four major safety advocacy organizations has issued a letter to the CPSC, urging them to take strong, immediate action to help protect children from the dangers associated with IKEA furniture tip-overs. In their heartfelt letter, the groups have requested a complete stop-sale of the dangerous IKEA furniture, and full refunds for affected customers. They are also asking the CPSC to reclassify IKEA’s response as a recall, not just a “repair program”, as avoidance of the use of the word “recall” diminishes the urgency of the real dangers and hazards of the product.
The letter also calls for more public awareness regarding the fact that the IKEA products don’t meet current ASTM furniture industry standards for tip-overs. It is likely that what happened to Ted may also have been avoided had the dresser complied with industry standards (which most manufacturers routinely follow).
The coalition behind the letter is comprised of four leading safety advocate groups: Consumer Federation of America; Consumers Union; The National Center for Health Research; and Kids in Danger. They have also issued a press release regarding the letter.
More Awareness and Direct Action is Needed
It is clear that the situation with IKEA furniture is serious, and that immediate action must occur in order to prevent further injury or deaths to other children. Consumers can help increase awareness by spreading word of the dangers associated with furniture tip-overs, especially products that have safety issues by design. Contact us today to share your story of an IKEA furniture tip-over.
Parents of any child injured by a dresser that has overturned — whether IKEA or any other brand — are urged to contact Feldman Shepherd to share their story and discuss their legal options. The firm can be reached at (844) 480-0100 or by filling out the form below.