The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently published an opinion partially reversing a district court’s ruling in favor of the defendant in a product liability lawsuit filed by a man who was seriously burned in a fire that ignited while he was using a cleaning product manufactured by the defendant. The plaintiff sued the defendant under several theories of liability, including failure to warn as well as strict product liability and negligence.
The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant on all of the plaintiff’s claims, but the Court of Appeals found that the plaintiff’s claims surrounding the allegedly defective design of the defendant’s product should not have been resolved without a trial. As a result of the recent appellate ruling, the plaintiff’s case will be remanded to the federal district court for further proceedings that may ultimately result in an award of damages for the plaintiff.
The Plaintiff Is Seriously Burned While Cleaning His Basement Floor with the Defendant’s Product
The plaintiff in the case of Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co. is a man who attempted to clean paint off the floor of his basement with Goof Off, a cleaning product manufactured by the defendant. The main ingredient in the product is acetone, which is a highly flammable chemical that evaporates at room temperature. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff read the warnings on the product label before he poured the product on the floor of his basement floor and started scrubbing the area with a brush in accordance with the instructions. Although the exact cause of ignition was in dispute, a fire broke out and resulted in serious burns to the plaintiff’s head, face, neck, and hands. After suffering the injuries, the plaintiff sued the defendant in federal court, alleging that the warnings on the product label were inadequate and that the product itself was unreasonably dangerous.
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