Everyone who owns a piece of IKEA furniture knows that it can be a real pain to assemble. But, tragically, items from the Scandinavian retailer have proven to be dangerous–and in some instances even deadly. Such is the terrible case of Curren Collas, a two-year-old boy who died last February after being crushed in his own bedroom.
Collas climbed a six-drawer, 136-pound IKEA MALM dresser in his room when it tipped over and landed on him, holding him against his bed. When his mother called him for breakfast, she found him in that position, still breathing, and called for an ambulance. As the Philadelphia Daily News reports, “He died later that day at Paoli Hospital; a coroner ruled his cause [of] death compression of the chest.”
The Collas family, which is represented by Alan Feldman, Daniel Mann, and Edward Goldis of Feldman Shepherd, allege in their lawsuit, “the IKEA defendants were aware of a tip-over hazard arising from falling vertical dressers and other furniture. According to estimates from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 43,000 consumers are injured each year in tip-over incidents, with more than 25,000 of those injuries to children under the age of 18.”
The suit also claims that the dresser came without adequate warnings or safety instructions about tip-overs, nor did its packaging include anchoring devices to secure the unit to a wall.The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that in 2011 (the most recent year for which data are available) furniture tip-overs killed 49 children, which is 21 more than in 2010, suggesting such injuries are on the rise.
Attorney Alan Feldman warns, “Consumers need to know about the danger, and companies like IKEA need to do much, much more in terms of educating the public about the risk [of tip-over accidents].” His colleague Daniel Mann adds that this accident was both “catastrophic and preventable.” IKEA has acknowledged that at least two children have died as a result of MALM dressers falling on them.
Jaquelyn Collas has spoken out as a consumer advocate since her son’s tragic and untimely death, writing on her website, “I want you to learn from my mistakes. Bolt EVERYTHING down. Dressers, bookshelves, TVs, anything that could possibly fall.” She has also pushed for a recall of the MALM line of dressers.
Her writing has spurred others to make changes in their own homes; one reader writes, “I want to thank you for sharing your story and putting your hearts out there. As a result I’m going around my house and securing items with straps, screws, whatever I can find. So your story may end up making a difference for my children someday. May you find comfort in that during such a difficult time.”