For parents, babyproofing your home isn’t anything new. You install safety gates at the top and bottom of your stairs, put corner guards on table edges, and use cabinet locks to keep little ones out of your medicine cabinets and other areas, but are you forgetting one of the most important safety measures you can take?
Over the past 20 years, hundreds of children have died and thousands have been injured from furniture or televisions that were not properly secured, according to Consumer Reports (CR). To prevent such accidents, Congress passed a law in December 2022 called the Stop Tip-over of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is now required to set mandatory safety standards for all dressers and other clothing storage furniture made or sold in the U.S. Entertainment centers, bookshelves, china cabinets, and other large items are exempt from this law.
Under STURDY’s requirements, clothing storage furniture must remain upright during three tests in conditions that reflect actual use by the average consumer, which includes placing on carpets, containing the weight of clothes, and with drawers open.
This past February, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), a third-party organization that creates safety guidelines for manufacturers in several industries, updated the ASTM International F2057 voluntary standard to meet the requirements of the STURDY Act. The CPSC must review it and decide whether to adopt it in whole or in part as the new mandatory rule by the one-year mark of the law’s enactment.
An investigation by USA TODAY found that while all dressers have the potential to tip, Ikea’s are particularly hazardous. 17.3 million units were recalled by the company in 2016 after the eighth child under three years old died when an Ikea dresser fell on them.
Recalls related to their dressers didn’t stop there, and in 2021, they began requiring consumers in all U.S. stores to, before making a purchase, fill out a form acknowledging that they must secure it to a wall and recognizing the risk that furniture could tip over. Customers are also required to register with their email address to allow Ikea to share safety updates and provide a reminder about securing the furniture to the wall.
This raises the question: if a customer were to sign the form, purchase the item, and fail to correctly secure the furniture to their wall resulting in a tragic accident, did that customer waive their right to sue Ikea by signing the form?
Not exactly. “This form is not technically legally binding, but it can help Ikea fend off lawsuits,” firm co-founder and personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio said. “The company can claim that the consumer had notice of the dangers of that piece of furniture.”
While this doesn’t mean the consumer can’t sue, the form will likely make it more difficult. With STURDY in place, however, Ikea’s clothing storage furniture must meet the new, mandatory industry standards, which will hopefully make their products less dangerous.
If you or a family member have been injured by an unstable piece of furniture, contact the skilled personal injury lawyers at Custodio & Dubey LLP. With over 25 years of experience, our lawyers will guide you at every step of the way to help you receive the justice you deserve.