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Judge allows plaintiffs to sue store that sold dangerous product

A U. S. district judge has ruled that a store which sold a defective flammable gel designed for portable stoves can be liable for breach of warranty in the case of a man who was injured by the product. The plaintiff has sued the store in a complaint that includes such claims as design defect, inadequate warning, loss of consortium and negligence.

A man who had been given the gel and stove as gifts was using the product safely in the manner recommended by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, it suddenly burst into flame, spattering him with burning gel and burning him severely. Although the dangerous product was manufactured in Georgia , it was purchased from an unaffiliated chain store with a location in Pennsylvania. The complaint was originally placed in the town where the store was located, but the store had the case moved to the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The district court has removed the strict product liability claim from the amended complaint, stating that it should apply to product liability actions under Pennsylvania law. However, the breach of warranty claim was left unaltered. Working from a precedent left by the 3rd Circuit Court, the judge ruled that the parts that prove a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability are the same needed to recover from a strict products liability claim.

The case has yet to be decided, but it will certainly have implications for stores and distributors around America. The flammable gel, which had been advertised as "planet safe and people safe," was recalled from shelves nationwide within a month of the injury. However, the exact amount of liability that a store has for selling untested and dangerous products in this circumstance has yet to be determined. A lawyer can be instrumental in helping to press a claim in uncharted legal territory such as this.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Judge fans the flames in suit over fire gel defect", Rose Bouboushian, September 05, 2013

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