Toddler Left With Skull Exposed After Toppling Ikea Drawers Cut Her Head Open

Distraught mother calls in lawyers after Malm drawers collapsed on three-year-old daughter


Hayley Court, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

A British toddler was left with her “skull exposed” after a set of Ikea drawers toppled over in a bedroom cutting her head open.

Three-year-old Harriet’s distraught mother – who does not wish to be named – has now instructed expert product liability lawyers at Irwin Mitchell after reading about similar incidents in the US.

The law firm is now investigating the incident in connection with the recall of 29 million Malm drawers in America in June this year following the death of six toddlers.

It is understood that since 2015 the furniture is now sold with brackets to fix it to the wall in the UK but when Harriet’s mother bought the Malm unit in 2013 no brackets were included or in the assembly pack.

Harriet, from Stafford, was injured on September 5 2016 when the chest of drawers toppled over on top of her after her mother had put her to bed.

The toddler’s mother called 999 and an ambulance took Harriet to the Royal Stoke University Hospital where she underwent surgery to close the deep hole in her face.

Harriet’s mother said: “I heard a loud bang from Harriet’s bedroom where I’d just put her down to sleep. I ran upstairs and saw blood everywhere and the drawers on top of Harriet.

“There was a huge hole in her head and I could see her skull. It was horrifying; the stuff of nightmares for any parent.

“To hear similar – or worse – incidents have happened in the US is shocking. And it’s worrying to think this happen again.”

Harriet had four layers of stitching in order to close it the injury and was kept under observation until she was able to open her eyes three days later.

One mother sued Ikea after her two-year-old son was crushed to death in the USA by his dresser in 2014. This action lead to an order that the Swedish furniture company had to disclose internal documents created prior to the recall of this model of drawers.

However, just two months after the US recall, the company’s lawyers have failed to comply with the judge’s order, leading US claimant lawyers to claim that the company may have something to hide.

Matthew Newbould, expert product liability lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing the British toddler, said: “The US Malm recall is one of the most comprehensive in US legal history, and it is not surprising that litigation is being pursued in the US by those injured.

“We have been approached by UK consumers, including Harriet’s mother, whose children have been injured by this product and they are surprised by the fact that a recall has taken place in the US but not the UK. According to Ikea, this is because US and UK safety regulations differ, so that the drawers comply with UK regulations, but not US regulations.

“Ikea maintains that the assembly manual includes an instruction to affix the top of the drawers to the wall and a reference to the risk of toppling, and this is sufficient to comply with legal requirements in the UK; however, the fixings were not actually included in the assembly pack until mid-2015.

“My client bought her Malm unit in 2013, and so there were no fixings to attach the unit to the wall.

“It is easy to criticise consumers for not following the instructions provided, but the reality is that most pieces of furniture don’t have to be screwed to the wall in order to prevent them from falling over.

“The failure to actually provide the fixing brackets needed to attach the unit to the wall in the package until 2015 would undoubtedly have baffled many consumers and increased the risk that the instructions could be misinterpreted.”

“It is concerning to that the UK appears to be lagging behind the US in terms of the safety standards applicable to household products. If the product is not safe, it should be recalled, particularly those units supplied without the necessary fixing brackets. Clearly that is the approach in the US.”

Read more about the work of Irwin Mitchell's product liability team here.