BETHESDA, Md. – Federal safety regulators will sue Ikea if the retailer does not take new steps to address problems with potentially unstable dressers already blamed for the deaths of three toddlers — including an Apple Valley boy — the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday.
Elliot Kaye made the remarks after meeting with safety advocates who said that the consumer awareness program Ikea launched last summer has been ineffective and that the company should take its “Malm” dressers, a popular low-cost model, off the market.
Although the agency had approved what Ikea was allowed to call a repair program, Kaye told the advocates there was now “no daylight” between their demands for action and his own.
Tuesday’s meeting, at the agency’s headquarters, followed last month’s disclosure that a third child had died in a Malm dresser tip-over. Theodore “Teddy” McGee was killed on Feb. 14 when a six-drawer dresser toppled onto him in his Apple Valley bedroom. His parents had put the 22-month-old down for a nap shortly before.
Requested by advocates from a handful of consumer safety groups, the meeting drew about a dozen people, including agency staffers, the mother of a child killed in a dresser tip-over, and a representative of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recently added its voice to the coalition pressing for a recall.
Ikea did not send a representative. In a statement later Tuesday, the company said: “We have been collaborating with the CPSC on communicating about the importance of anchoring chests of drawers to the wall for the last year, and we will continue to do so.”
Kaye said the agency continues to negotiate a resolution with Ikea. But if they cannot reach an agreement, he will push for legal action, he said.
“The CPSC is either going to get the remedy that will finally solve this issue with this particular company, or we’ll go to court if it’s not voluntarily agreed to,” he said.