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What Should I Do If My Child Has Been Injured by a Kirkland’s Dresser?

Kirkland’s Recalls Dressers That Fail to Meet Voluntary Safety Standards

September 5, 2019

As parents, consumer safety organizations and lawmakers continue to ramp up their pressure on the furniture industry to enact standards designed to reduce dresser tip-overs, furniture and home goods retailer Kirkland’s has announced that it is recalling about 3,000 dressers that do not comply with the furniture industry’s already weak voluntary safety standard.

The Aug. 28, 2019 recall, issued jointly with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, affects two models of dressers — the Black Wash Mirrored Chest and the Six-Drawer Camille Chest. The recall notice states that the dressers are unstable if not anchored to a wall, and that they pose serious tip-over or entrapment hazards that can result in death or injuries to children.

The models were sold nationwide from Kirkland’s stores and online from its website from January 2016 through May 2019. The recall notice instructs consumers to stop using the recalled chests and place them in a room away from children. Consumers can return the chests to a Kirkland’s store and receive a refund or contact Kirkland’s to receive a free tip-over restraint kit and schedule a one-time free in-home installation of the kit.

Two Major Developments

The recall comes amid two major developments in an ongoing movement to keep children safe from furniture tip-overs in their own bedrooms.

On August 1st, ASTM International, which publishes voluntary safety standards for the furniture industry, announced that it was amending the voluntary safety standard for dressers sold in the United States. The standard now applies to dressers 27” and above in height, replacing the former standard which applied only to dressers at least 30” tall. The voluntary standard requires the dresser to pass stability testing by placing a 50-pound weight on the edge of a fully opened drawer. In order to be compliant with the standard, the dresser must not tip over.

Additionally, federal lawmakers are presently considering the STURDY Act (Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act), which would impose a stronger, mandatory stability standard for dressers, also referred to in the furniture industry as “clothing storage units.” The bill, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. in April, is the second attempt by lawmakers to improve dresser safety and stability. A similar bill introduced in 2016 did not receive a vote.

Tip-Over Epidemic

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, every 17 minutes someone in the United States is injured by a furniture, television or appliance tip-over. In 2016, 2,800 children under six were injured in tip-overs involving dressers, marking a 33% increase over the previous year. Between 2000 and 2017, 542 children died from furniture tip-overs.

Alan Feldman, a product liability attorney and co-founding partner at Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP, said that furniture which is unsafe and unstable by design should simply not be permitted to be sold to unsuspecting consumers:

“It is well known in the furniture industry that dressers can be designed and built to resist tip-overs, without sacrificing function or affecting price. In fact, some manufacturers have already implemented these improved designs which are plainly safer, particularly for toddlers. Let’s make sure that every dresser sold in the U.S. is stable when used in an expected manner so that children can be safe in their own bedrooms.”

When Should I Contact a Product Liability Attorney If My Child Is Injured by a Furniture Tip-Over?

Feldman recommends contacting a product liability attorney as soon as possible following a furniture tip-over accident, as every state has its own strict deadlines as to when a lawsuit must be filed. He said that parents, who are consumed with grief and misplaced self-blame, often do not recognize that their child’s dresser tipped over due to an unsafe design, which is fully preventable. Feldman said that in some cases parents have contacted him many years after a defective product seriously injured or killed their child, at a point when it was too late to take legal action.

Feldman added that many grieving parents have found comfort in using litigation to shine a spotlight on dangerous furniture and to help ensure that it is removed from the marketplace so that other families do not suffer tragedies similar to their own.

“I know from personal experience that legal action, together with the efforts of nonprofit organizations and concerned legislators, can absolutely enhance the safety of consumer products, particularly those used by and for children. My firm welcomes the opportunity to work with parents whose kids have been victims of defectively designed dressers and other furniture products.”

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