A 22-month-old Apple Valley boy became the third child in two years killed when an Ikea furniture item tipped over, a hazard that prompted a government safety warning last year, a lawyer for the boy’s family said Thursday.
Theodore “Teddy” McGee was killed in his bedroom soon after his mother checked on him during an afternoon nap on Feb. 14, according to the police report.
Various styles of Ikea’s “Malm” dresser were the subject of a repair program announced last summer by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which directed consumers to a free wall-anchoring kit being made available by the North American division of Swedish-based Ikea. The other toddlers’ deaths occurred before the agency’s response.
The program, detailing what the CPSC characterized as a “tipover hazard,” covered roughly 27 million chests with either three, four or six drawers. The repair program also covered another 6 million units sold in Canada. Since the announcement, the wall-mount kits have been included with each dresser sold.
The McGees’ attorney, Alan Feldman, said that Teddy’s parents were unaware of last year’s CPSC directive about their six-drawer dresser, which they bought in 2012.
When Janet McGee checked on Teddy during his nap, she noticed he wasn’t in his bed, the police report read. She spotted the dresser tipped over onto her son. She lifted it up, saw a bloodied Teddy and screamed “call 911!” the report continued.
“In his short life, Ted brought immense joy and love to his family and friends,” the boy’s online obituary read. “He loved to watch sports with his daddy and enjoyed playing with his brothers, especially rocking out to music. … His greatest moments in life were being with his family and playing with his partner in crime, the family dog, Chloe.”
Feldman said he knows “lots of people who have these dressers. They don’t look dangerous, but when you load them up with clothing and you allow them to be in a bedroom with a small child … it’s Russian roulette.”
The dressers cost from $80 to $200.
Questions about the dressers have been fielded at Ikea’s North American headquarters in suburban Philadelphia by Mona Astra Liss. In a written statement, Liss said, “The best way to prevent tipover of chests of drawers is to attach products to the wall with the included restraints and hardware per the assembly instructions.”
Ikea’s decision to offer wall anchoring as a solution is insufficient, Feldman said. “Most people don’t do it,” he said.
In the McGees’ case, he noted, they were renting their home at the time and weren’t allowed to put holes in the walls, the attorney said. Ikea should have recalled the products and offered customers a refund, he said.
In February 2014, Curren Collas was killed by a six-drawer chest that tipped over on at his home in West Chester, Pa., according to the CPSC. Four months later, 23-month-old Camden Ellis, of Snohomish, Wash., became trapped under a three-drawer chest. Neither chest was secured to a wall, the agency said.
Legal action against Ikea on behalf of the McGees is being prepared, said Feldman, who representing the other two families in lawsuits already filed.
Ikea and the CPSC also received another 14 reports of tipover incidents involving Malm chests, resulting in four injuries. In addition, Ikea said, the company is aware of three additional reports of deaths since 1989 from tipovers involving other models of its chests and dressers.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482