Another ninety dressers have been added to the growing tally of unsafe dressers that have been recalled because they can easily tip over and seriously injure or kill young children.
On July 22, 2021, Bel Furniture issued a joint recall with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for its Barrington 5-Drawer Chests, which were sold at Bel Furniture stores throughout Texas and from the company’s website from October 2014 through July 2016 for about $250. The dressers are brown with silver drawer knobs and measure 49 inches tall, 35 inches wide and 19 inches deep. A sticker on the back identifies them as “Barrington 5-Drawer Chest” from the “Mollai Collection.” Bel Furniture has received one report of this model dresser tipping over and injuring a child.
The recall notice instructs consumers to immediately stop using the recalled dressers and to contact Bel Furniture for a full refund, with free pick-up. Consumers can also receive the refund by returning the drawer slides to Bel Furniture and disposing of the dressers themselves. The company is also offering free installation of tip-over restraints for consumers who want to keep their dressers.
The recall marks the fourth recall in the U.S. in recent months of dressers which, by design, are unsafe and unstable and that do not comply with the furniture industry’s voluntary safety standard. In July, Canyon Furniture Company recalled 1,200 dressers. In January, CB2 recalled 11,000 dressers, and Noble House Home Furnishing recalled 780 chests, cabinets and dressers.
How Many Children Are Injured by Dresser Tip-Overs?
Between 2000 and 2019, at least 218 children died from tip-overs of chests, bureaus and dressers, according to the CPSC. The CPSC reports that every 60 minutes, on average, a child is sent to the emergency room as the result of a furniture tip-over incident.
Why Are So Many Dressers Tipping Over?
Contrary to popular belief, there is no government agency that safety-tests furniture before it is brought to market in the United States. The truth is that the stability of dressers is governed by a voluntary safety standard created primarily by the furniture industry itself.
In June, 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. The legislation still must pass the U.S. Senate, where it is presently before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
The bill marks the third attempt by lawmakers in recent years to strengthen the safety standard. In 2020 and 2019, similar legislation passed the House with bipartisan support, but unfortunately stalled in the Senate twice.
While it is at least possible that furniture makers might independently conclude that unstable dressers are a danger to children and toughen the voluntary standard or introduce new, safer designs on their own, experience suggests that the tragedy of dresser tip-overs will continue until lawmakers enact a mandatory federal safety standard.
What Should I Do If My Child Has Been Injured or Killed by a Dresser Tip-Over?
Alan M. Feldman, a co-founding partner at Feldman Shepherd and a product liability attorney, said that “existing product liability law in most states requires that products be safe for their intended as well as expected use. Furniture makers bear legal liability when children are injured by dressers that are unstable and unsafe when used in a normal and expected manner.” Feldman recommends contacting a product liability attorney as soon as possible if your child has been injured by a dresser 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.