IKEA wardrobe child suffocation case settles for $13.5m

Plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP has secured a $13.5m settlement of a lawsuit filed on behalf of an 18-month-old girl who was fatally asphyxiated when her head and neck became fully entrapped in a drawer cutout of an IKEA STUVA wardrobe that was designed specifically for use in children’s bedrooms.

On February 25, 2017, Lyla Moss woke up early in her bedroom and, while her parents slept, opened the bottom drawer of the STUVA wardrobe to retrieve an item. The drawers and doors for the IKEA STUVA line were designed with signature cutouts instead of handles so that children could more easily access the items inside.

As she had many times before, Lyla opened the bottom drawer by inserting her hand into the horizontal drawer cutout and pulling the dresser drawer out. While the incident was not witnessed, she likely fell forward, catching her neck in the drawer cutout and causing the drawer to close. Lyla’s father discovered her that morning when he went into her bedroom to check on her.

Despite the frantic efforts of her parents and first responders to perform CPR, Lyla suffocated and died as a result of head and neck entrapment in the IKEA STUVA wardrobe.

Extensive discovery conducted by Feldman Shepherd during the course of the litigation included in-person depositions of IKEA witnesses in Europe and testing and exhaustive evaluation of the design of the STUVA wardrobe.

While IKEA contended that the manner of Lyla’s death was not foreseeable, an argument it claimed was buttressed by the absence of any other reported injuries or complaints, testimony about the hazard analysis conducted by an IKEA design team demonstrated an awareness that the cutout presented an entrapment hazard.

The STUVA wardrobe is no longer sold in IKEA stores in the United States.

The litigation was led by Feldman Shepherd product liability attorneys Alan M. Feldman, Daniel J. Mann and Edward S. Goldis.

Mr. Mann said: “Children should be safe in their own bedrooms. Whether it is children’s furniture, sleeping products or toys, manufacturers must conduct a hazard analysis to ensure their products are safe. When the design process breaks down, avoidable tragedies such as the death of Lyla Moss are a result. We hope that the resolution of this claim brings the family some closure following this unspeakable tragedy.”

The Feldman Shepherd firm has recovered well over $100m for the families of victims of unsafe IKEA dressers.

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