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Cleaning Solution Unexpectedly Combusts Into Flames, Seriously Injuring Homeowner

Last month, a federal appellate court decided a case involving a man’s claims against the manufacturer of a cleaning solution that spontaneously combusted when he was using the product to clean his basement floor. In the case, Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co., the plaintiff filed three related product liability claims against the manufacturer of the “Goof Off” brand cleaning solution. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff presented enough evidence on two of the claims to proceed. However, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s failure-to-warn claim, based on the adequacy of the warning on the product’s label.

The Facts of the Case

Suarez was using “Goof Off” brand cleaning solution to clean his basement floor. Like any responsible homeowner, Suarez read the instructions on the product’s packaging prior to using the product. In preparation, he opened several windows and the door to the basement to allow ventilation, as the instructions recommended.

Following the instructions, Suarez poured the cleaning solution onto the basement floor and used a broom to evenly spread a thin layer of the solution across the entire floor. However, as Suarez was brushing the solution, it caught fire, severely burning him. After he recovered, Suarez filed this case against the manufacturer.

At trial, Suarez had two experts testify in his favor. Essentially, the experts testified that the spark causing the fire likely did not come from any other source in the basement and very possibly came from Suarez agitating the solution with the broom. The defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming that Suarez failed to present the court with sufficient evidence showing the defendant could be legally held responsible. The court agreed and dismissed all three claims. Suarez appealed.

On appeal, the court disagreed that Suarez presented insufficient evidence on his strict liability and general negligence claims. The court applied the applicable tests used in Suarez’s jurisdiction and determined that the evidence presented by Suarez was sufficient, and a jury very well may have agreed that the defendant manufacturer should be held liable for his injuries. However, the court did affirm the dismissal of Suarez’s failure-to-warn claim because the court believed that the warnings on the product’s packaging adequately advised users of the potential risks of using the product. As a result, Suarez’s two remaining claims will proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous or Defective Product?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a dangerous product while using the product as it was intended to be used, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Product manufacturers are keenly aware of product liability laws and understand how they may be able to evade responsibility through procedural loopholes and clever arguments. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Cecere Santana have decades of combined experience representing clients who have been injured while responsibly using dangerous products, and we know what it takes to be successful for our clients. Call 800-753-5529 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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