As the window of opportunity continues to close for the 116th Congress to pass the STURDY Act ― which would help prevent dresser tip-overs ― another 24,000 unsafe dressers have been added to the dresser recall tally.
On November 4, 2020, furniture supplier Walker Edison issued a joint recall with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of two dressers ― Spencer four-drawer chests and an unnamed chest of drawers ― that do not comply with the industry’s voluntary safety standard. According to the recall notice, the dressers are unstable and can pose serious tip-over and entrapment hazards that may result in death and injuries to children.
The affected Spencer four-drawer chests are marked with the following model numbers: BR4DDRCA (842158142443), BR4DDRWH (842158142436), and BR4DDRWT (842158142450). For the unnamed chests, the recall affects the following model numbers, which are found on their boxes: BR3DMILDRDW (840035320847) and BR3DMILDRSG (840035320854). Both types of dressers come in white, gray, wood stain or wood imitation laminate finishes.
The dressers were sold by online retailers including Best Buy, Pier 1, Amazon and Target from August 2018 through March 2020 for between about $200 and $300.
The recall notice instructs consumers to immediately stop using the dressers and to contact Walker Edison for instructions to dispose of them and to obtain a full refund or free replacement.
A Tortuous Tale of Dresser Recalls and Legislative Delay
This recall is the latest addition to a spate of dresser recalls over the past several months by popular brands including Kmart, Modus Furniture, Hodedah and Prepac. Nearly 93,000 dressers were implicated in these recalls alone. The all-time largest dresser recall was by furniture giant IKEA, which in June 2016 recalled 8 million MALM chests and dressers and 21 million additional children’s and adult chests and dressers that are prone to tip over. IKEA “re-announced” its massive recall in November 2017.
The Walker Edison recall also comes as the STURDY Act (Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act) appears likely to die in the U.S. Senate during the final days of the 116th Congress. This important legislation, which would require the CPSC to create a mandatory federal safety standard for dressers sold in the United States, passed the House with bipartisan support in September 2019. This is the second attempt by lawmakers in recent years to strengthen the safety standard, which was created primarily by the furniture industry itself. A similar bill introduced in 2016 did not receive a vote.
A mandatory federal safety standard for dresser stability is desperately needed because a child dies every two weeks when a television, piece of furniture or appliance falls on him or her, according to the CPSC. Moreover, the CPSC estimates that chest, bureau and dresser tip-overs caused an annual average of 3,200 emergency department (ED)-treated injuries involving children between 2016 and 2018.
Alan M. Feldman, a product liability attorney and co-founding partner at Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP, said that too many young children have been seriously injured or killed unnecessarily, as lawmakers have delayed and manufacturers have failed to voluntarily implement more stringent testing and design requirements for dressers. He urged both parties to take action:
“The delay in the Senate to pass this important legislation to protect children is unacceptable. The STURDY Act has bipartisan support, and the failure to bring the bill to a vote is extremely disappointing. However, responsible manufacturers should not wait for the federal government to get involved, and should move forward immediately to strengthen testing standards to protect our children from these preventable deaths and injuries.”
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.