Earlier last month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a product liability case, originally arising out of Illinois, claiming that the manufacturer of the “Goof Off” brand cleaner should be liable for injuries a consumer sustained while using the product. In the case, Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co., the appellate court allowed several of the plaintiff’s claims to continue toward trial, finding that the plaintiff presented enough evidence for a jury to potentially find in his favor.
The Facts of the Case
Suarez was using “Goof Off” brand cleaner to clean his basement floor. Suarez read the label and followed the instructions. One of the steps listed on the product’s label instructed those intending to use the product to clean floors to spread the product across the floor with a broom. Suarez used a broom to spread the cleaner across the floor in his basement, but as he was doing so, the cleaner caught fire. Suarez was seriously injured in the fire and filed this product liability lawsuit, seeking compensation for his injuries.
Suarez’s case consisted of three different but related claims:
- A failure-to-warn claim,
- A strict liability claim, and
- A general negligence claim.
The trial court dismissed all three claims, finding that Suarez did not present the court with sufficient evidence that would allow a jury to find in his favor. Suarez appealed.
On Appeal, Two Claims Are Allowed to Proceed
The appellate court agreed with the lower court that there was insufficient evidence to prove a failure-to-warn claim. The court explained that the product’s warning was sufficient and did detail the potential risks of using the product. However, the court disagreed with the lower court that Suarez’s other two claims were unsupported by sufficient evidence.
The court explained that a reasonable juror may very well determine that a consumer would not expect the product to combust into flames when using the product in the manner for which it was intended to be used and in accordance with its instructions. Furthermore, the court held that the benefits associated with the product’s use did not so clearly outweigh the risks involved as to warrant dismissal at such an early stage. In the end, the court did not enter judgment in favor of Suarez but instead reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the claims. As a result of the ruling, Suarez will be permitted to present two of his three claims to a jury for its consideration.
Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while using a dangerous or defective product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Virginia law firm of Charles B. Roberts & Associates have the skill and experience to confidently represent clients in all types of personal injury cases, including product liability and strict liability claims. Call 703-491-7070 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney today. Calling is free, and we will not send you a bill for our time and effort unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
See More Blog Posts:
Plaintiff’s Bad-Faith Insurance Claim Allowed to Proceed after Dismissal Is Reversed on Appeal, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, December 7, 2016.
Government Immunity in Virginia Personal Injury Lawsuits, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, December 1, 2016.