Pretzel & Stouffer

Disfiguring Third Degree Burns on Face and Upper Torso Nets Zero Against National Retailer and Sleepwear Manufacturer

Edward Ruff III and Michael Turiello of Pretzel & Stouffer won summary judgment for Walmart Stores, Inc. and clothing manufacturer, Charles Komar & Sons, Inc. in a Flammable Fabrics Act case. Plaintiff sustained third-degree full thickness burns to approximately 40% of her body, face and torso when her clothing became ignited by a gas stovetop. Plaintiff spent six months in a coma and required extensive physical therapy and occupational therapy. Plaintiff’s past medical bills alone were nearly $2,000,000.

At the time of the incident, Plaintiff was wearing a jacket purchased at Macy’s, and sleepwear manufactured by Komar and purchased at Walmart. Plaintiff sued Macy’s, Walmart and Komar alleging theories of negligence, product liability and breach of implied warranty. Plaintiff was represented by a national plaintiff product liability firm. The plaintiff produced expert testimony to support her theory that the jacket and sleepwear were unreasonably dangerous. Mr. Ruff and his team argued that plaintiff’s experts’ opinions failed to establish that the sleepwear at issue was any different or more dangerous than other sleepwear on the market. Therefore, the sleepwear was not a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries because the jacket caught fire first and ignited the sleepwear.

Chief Judge Ruben Castillo of the Northern District of Illinois agreed and dismissed all counts against Walmart and Komar.

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