When a child dies in his or her own bedroom, as a result of a preventable incident, the words “unthinkable tragedy” come to mind. In February 2011, a two-year boy from suburban Chicago was killed when the dresser in his bedroom tipped over and trapped him between the furniture and the floor, causing him to suffocate. His mother recently brought an action in Cook County against the furniture manufacturer and the store, Furniture Kidz, for the death of her son. There are three basic types of product liability: a manufacturing defect, design defect and a failure to warn. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, you may be entitled to recover damages. It is important to contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the lawsuit alleges that although the toddler in this case suffered head trauma, the pressure of the dresser caused the boy to suffocate. The complaint asserts that the company did not provide instructions or warnings to help prevent a tip-over and that the dresser should have been equipped with an “anchoring strap” or another device that would keep it from tipping over.
Once the Consumer Product Safety Commission became aware of the incident, they recalled approximately 300 of the dressers that were sold between January 2005 and December 2010. The Commission reported that when the dressers were manufactured, they complied with safety standards. The Commission’s website identifies a May 2009 voluntary industry standard requiring that tip-over restraints that attach to the interior wall, framing or other support be included with all dressers to help prevent tip-over hazards to young children.
One of the frightening aspects of this story is that deaths from tip-overs are on the rise. According to another Tribune article, from 2000 to 2011, 349 people died in a tip-over incident and 84 percent of them were under age nine. And in 2011 alone, there were 41 deaths, the highest one-year total. For the most part, these fatalities could have been prevented. The Commission suggests that new parents, grandparents and caregivers should be alerted to the need for safety devices to secure furniture and other potentially dangerous tip-over items, such as televisions, in place. The mother bringing the lawsuit in this case has worked to raise awareness of the dangers of tip-over incidences. She started the non-profit “Shane Foundation” to warn parents about tip-overs.
Parents have every right to expect that products sold for use by children will come with the necessary instructions and warnings to keep them safe. When that doesn’t happen, and a child is injured as a result of a lack of warning, the parents could have a product liability cause of action. In a “failure to warn” case, plaintiffs are expected to prove that the manufacturer knew about the danger posed by the product, had a duty to warn consumers about the danger and were negligent in executing their duty, which resulted in the consumer being hurt by the product.