On Wednesday, lawyers representing the families of three toddlers killed by recalled IKEA dressers said the company has agreed to settle their wrongful death lawsuits, paying the parents a collective $US50 ($69) million. In addition, IKEA will donate $US250,000 to various children's organisations and increase funding for a campaign highlighting the dangers of tipping furniture, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
"I am so proud that we were able to negotiate such great terms," one of the parents told NBC Philadelphia. "To know that my little boy was able to help save so many children makes my heart happy."
IKEA first publicly acknowledged the tip-over danger of its dressers in July 2015 after two small children were fatally pinned by falling Malm chests. At the time, the company offered to send customers free wall anchoring kits, but further reports of child injuries prompted the company to issue a massive recall of 29 million dressers this summer.
In court, the families of the dead children accused IKEA of knowing the danger posed by the dressers for years before the recall, while IKEA claimed the parents were negligent for choosing not to secure the chests to walls.
In the end, 75 internal documents IKEA shared with safety regulators while negotiating the recall may have made the difference. The company fought to keep the documents (including one referencing "global" tip-over incidents) secret, even risking sanctions by initially ignoring a court order to turn them over to the families' lawyers.
By avoiding a trial, IKEA has kept the documents from entering the public record, but under the terms of the settlement the company is prohibited from destroying them.
In a statement to The Inquirer, one mother sounded far from victorious on Wednesday.
"We would never want other parents to have to experience what we have been forced to endure," wrote Janet McGee. "This has been a tragic, heartbreaking season for us and our family, and no amount of money will make up for the loss of our sweet little boy."