Recently, Consumer Reports (CR), a nonprofit organization that provides research and reviews to improve products, issued a report that Ikea, a popular furniture retailer, is facing a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the company advertised and sold millions of dressers that they knew were inherently dangerous and prone to tipping over. Further, the complaint states that the retailer did not appropriately notify consumers or issue refunds for the dresser after they were recalled in 2016. The class-action lawsuit highlights the serious dangers and injuries that Massachusetts consumers may face because of defective products.
Statistics by CR indicate that someone in the United States suffers injuries less than every half hour because of an appliance or furniture tip-over. Further, dresser tip-overs account for over 200 deaths in the past twenty years. Many of these victims were under six-years-old. The above-referenced lawsuit was filed on behalf of a family who purchased the dressers before the recall. When the family tried to return the dressers in 2018, the store denied their attempt. The lawsuit claims that other families experienced similar denials. The class-action lawsuit seeks to redress consumers who purchased defective dressers and compel the retailer to remove the dressers from the homes of customers. Several consumer protection groups wrote to Ikea, stating that they did not do enough to notify parents about their dressers’ risks or make it easy to return or remedy defective products.
Many consumers are not aware that the furniture industry operates under a “voluntary tip-over” testing standard. The testing evaluates whether a dresser that measures higher than 30 inches can stay upright with 50 pounds hanging from an open drawer. However, because testing is not mandatory, manufacturers are not required to conduct the test or meet that standard. Research into these accidents reveals that close to half of these accidents occur when children are left alone in a room. CR advises that consumers refrain from putting televisions on top of dressers, citing reports that the majority of tip-over fatalities involved televisions and dressers tipping over. The most effective way to prevent these accidents is to secure dressers to the wall. However, this is not always possible for consumers, and manufacturers should provide the public with safer products and a way to affix dressers to walls.