EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A township woman who received second- and third-degree burns to her hands and face after an oil-filled torch exploded has filed a civil suit in federal court alleging Big Lots failed to alert people to the dangers of the product.
The complaint states 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 failed to protect innocent consumers such as Mari Linn Lacovara.
On May 22, 2013, Lacovara, a mother of two, went to blow out the flame in a mosaic-style, oil-fueled tabletop torch, which she purchased at the Big Lots store in Somers Point, when the lamp exploded. Lacovara was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center and later transferred to Crozer-Chester University Medical Center in Upland, Pennsylvania. She suffered burns to her neck, face and head, according to the complaint.
Lacovara is seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering as well as legal cost.
“I blew out the flame, then there was a loud explosion and I’m covered with hot oil and on fire,” Lacovara said in a statement. “I was hysterical. I’m traumatized about fire to a point where I can’t bring myself to even blow out a birthday candle.”
Calls to Big Lots Inc. were not returned.
Following numerous reports of other severe explosion-related injuries, including one death, linked to the defective Indian-made torches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Aug. 8, 2013, ordered Big Lots to remove them from store shelves and warn of their potential fire-burn hazard, said Paul D’Amato, Lacovara’s attorney.
“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,” D’Amato said. “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.”