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
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.
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.
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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