Fatal dresser accident highlights danger of household products

The recent incident in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where two young children were tragically killed when a large piece of furniture fell over on them highlights the dangers of many seemingly safe household products. Our office is quite aware of this type of danger from the well known defective product case we handled a few years ago against Target corporation where a young 18-month-old girl was strangled and suffered significant brain damage when the lid of a wicker trunk collapsed and trapped her neck.

While the incident in Aliquippa may involve some aspect of parental neglect (Indeed, the District Attorney in Beaver County has charged the parents in the incident for several reasons including the fact that at least one of them heard the dresser collapse and waited several minutes before going to investigate.), the fact remains that one would not anticipate that a dresser would tip over and cause two deaths. Certainly arguments can be raised that the dresser should contain warnings about its lack of stability or other safeguards, none of which were likely present.

If you look at the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), you would be astounded to learn of the number of serious accidents there are reported involving “furniture tip overs.” One of the most common scenarios is a television on a stand that is grabbed and falls over onto unsuspecting toddlers. Other heavy furniture has also been reported in these incidents.

But furniture is by no means the only household product involved in fatal or serious injuries to children. Cribs, clothing, cleaning products and many, many more are widely reported on the site. In our Target case, we were eventually able to prove that Target knew that the lid on the wicker box did not comply with safety standards requiring a locking mechanism to prevent the precise sort of accident that catastrophically injured our client. Manufacturers of these other household products in many instances are guilty of an equal degree of neglect. While we are happy to report that as a result of our case, the CPSC ordered a recall of these Target trunks, but sadly the recall was too late for our client.