EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J., July 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Mari Linn Lacovara was given no warning in May 2013 that the decorative oil-filled lamp she bought at a local chain discount store for her Egg Harbor Township home would easily become an explosive device and nearly take her life. After becoming yet another victim of the Big Lots, Inc. exploding tabletop citronella-oil torch, the New Jersey woman and her husband are suing the lamp's seller and urging tighter controls on the sale of similar products.
According to the complaint (CV-01953-JBS-AMD) filed recently in United States District Court in Camden, Ms. Lacovara, a senior budget office official at the Tropicana, wife of a retired firefighter-paramedic, and mother of two, on May 22, 2013 was on her back deck, blowing out the mosaic-style, oil-fueled tabletop torch, which she purchased at the discount Big Lots (NYSE: BIG) store in nearby Somers Point, when the lamp suddenly exploded.
"I remember it was about 9 p.m. and before going into the house, I blew out the flame," she recalled. "Then there was a loud explosion and I'm covered with hot oil and on fire. I was hysterical." She credits her son and neighbor with acting quickly to apply wet towels, call 911, and help get her get emergency treatment for second and third degree burns, first at AtlanticCare Regional Medical Center and then at Crozer Chester Medical Center. She was there for five days and continues to undergo treatment, including skin grafts as a result of the severe burns to her face, ear, neck, chest, and hands.
The victim's husband, Andrew, is a retired firefighter and paramedic. He was not home at the time of the explosion. But he says he'll never forget what happened when he arrived. "It looked like so many of the incident scenes I encountered over the decades as a firefighter. But it was our house and there was a large debris field from the force of the blast. Shrapnel from the mosaic glass squares flew more than 20 feet over the house from the patio onto the front yard. It's a miracle my wife wasn't killed. The product was defective; if we wanted to buy an explosive we would have gone to the fireworks store, not Big Lots."
Following numerous reports of other severe explosion-related injuries, including one death, linked to the defective Indian-made torches, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission on August 8, 2013 ordered Big Lots to remove them from store shelves and warn of their potential fire-burn hazard.
The complaint alleges that Big Lots and its testing service, Veritas Consumer Products Services, Inc., knew or should have known the torches were defective and potentially deadly, and still failed to protect innocent consumers like Mari Linn Lacovara.
Paul D'Amato, of the D'Amato Law Firm, P.C., counsel for the Lacovaras, believes the explosion should never have happened, "There is no excuse and no defense for a company to knowingly sell to the public a product that could cause severe injury, even death. Our clients want to ensure that what happened cannot happen again, and they were shocked to learn just the other day that Big Lots continues to sell – without any warning labels or directions - potentially lethal, citronella-fueled glass tabletop torches."
The explosion has forever changed Ms. Lacovara's life, physically and otherwise. "I think about it constantly more than two years later. How people visiting could have been killed, I'm traumatized about fire to a point where I can't bring myself to even blow out a birthday candle."
SOURCE D’Amato Law Office