The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has re-opened the door for an injury lawsuit against the makers of a chemical commercial paint removal that allegedly exploded while used by a consumer, resulting in serious burns. Plaintiffs – the injured man and his wife – are alleging the product was defective and the product maker failed to warn of the danger.
The appellate court in Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co. ruled that while the lower court appropriately rejected the failure-to-warn claim, the claims of design defect under theories of both strict liability and negligence should be allowed to move forward. Justices ruled that although the warning label on the product was adequate in identifying the product’s principle hazards and proper precautionary measures, the plaintiffs adequately showed the fire could have been caused by static sparks created when plaintiff agitated the chemical – as the warning label instructed. That means a genuine issue of fact exists as to whether an ordinary consumer would know to expect that a fire or explosion would occur under these circumstances, and also whether the product maker should have known that agitating the substance could cause it to ignite.
The incident in question happened in April 2012 when plaintiff purchased a one-gallon can of defendant’s chemical product, called “Goof-Off” to help him remove paint from a concrete floor in the basement of a building he owned. Plaintiff said he read most of the warning labels, which indicated the primary active ingredient is acetone, which is highly flammable and evaporates quickly at room temperature. Continue reading →