As legislation that would help prevent dresser tip-overs sits stalled in the U.S. Senate for a third time in recent years, another 13,200 dangerous children’s dressers have been recalled.
On October 27, 2021, Magnussen Home Furnishings issued a joint recall with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for its Nova Series 5-Drawer Chests, stating that the chests do not comply with the furniture industry’s voluntary standard for safety and stability. According to the notice, the chests are unstable if not wall-anchored and pose a tip-over and entrapment hazard that can result in death or serious injury to children. The company has received one report of a chest tipping over, resulting in a minor bruise to a child.
The recalled chests were sold at furniture stores nationwide from August 2009 through August 2015 for about $600. They are made of wood with a brown walnut veneer and measure 54 inches tall, 40 inches wide and 18 inches deep. A label located on the back, top left-hand corner lists the month and year of manufacture as well as the model number. The recalled chests have date codes between AG09 and AG15, representing August 2009 and August 2015.
The recall notice instructs consumers to immediately stop using the chests and to contact Magnussen Home Furnishings for a refund. The amount of the refund will be pro-rated based on the age of the chest.
The Magnussen Home Furnishings recall comes four months after the U.S. House of Representatives voted with bipartisan support to pass the STURDY Act (Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act), which would require the CPSC to create a mandatory federal safety standard for dressers sold in the United States. This important legislation still must pass the U.S. Senate, where it is presently before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. This is the third attempt by lawmakers in recent years to strengthen the safety standard, which was created primarily by the furniture industry itself. In 2020 and 2019, similar legislation passed the House with bipartisan support, but unfortunately stalled in the Senate.
The CPSC reports that between 2000 and 2019, 218 people died from tip-overs of chests, bureaus and dressers. Of the fatalities, 189 (or 87 percent) involved children. Moreover, every 60 minutes, on average, a child is sent to the emergency room as the result of a furniture tip-over incident, according to the CPSC.
Alan M. Feldman, a co-founding partner and product liability attorney at Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP, explained that many dresser tip-over accidents occur when young children wake up and are alone in their bedroom. These accidents often involve curious toddlers who may open dresser drawers to climb to the top or retrieve something in an upper drawer. As toddlers do not have the strength to catch a falling dresser or to lift one that has fallen on top of them, too often the outcome is catastrophic for the children and their families.
Feldman said, “While we are pleased that Magnussen Home Furnishings is recalling its unsafe dressers, children will never truly be safe in their bedrooms until furniture manufacturers design and build dressers that a toddler cannot tip over.”
Feldman’s team at Feldman Shepherd, which includes partners Daniel J. Mann and Edward S. Goldis, has recovered nearly $100 million on behalf of four families whose toddlers died from IKEA dresser tip-overs. In May 2020, the team filed a class action lawsuit against IKEA seeking consumer damages, alleging that the furniture giant carried out a “feeble” recall of nearly 30 million dressers that it knew were prone to tip-over. The IKEA dressers did not comply with voluntary safety standards and had caused death and serious injury to children.