Three Oregon residents who suffered serious burn injuries from a handheld firework have jointly filed a lawsuit against the retailer and distributer, claiming the companies knew the fireworks to be defective when they malfunctioned on July 4, 2015.
According to The (Lane County) Register-Guard, the lawsuit was filed in Lane County Circuit Court by Kori Ware, her 2-year-old daughter, and an unrelated 9-year-old boy, represented by his mother. The suit names Fundz 4 Kidz, a local retailer that sold them the fireworks, its owner Aaron Taylor, and the national distributor of the fireworks, North Central Industries, Inc. of Muncie, Indiana.
At the center of the lawsuit is a handheld firework called the Mammoth California Candle sold under the names Glow Beam, Dazzling Diamonds, and Touch of Sparkler.
Instructions on the firework, which is made in China, tell users to “hold in hand — point away from the body” and “light fuse,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that the firework’s instructions also claimed it was appropriate for children to use with adult supervision.
Ms. Ware alleges she was posing for a family photo holding her infant daughter in one arm and the firework in another. According to the lawsuit, the firework was supposed to shoot sparks from the top of the tube. But Ms. Ware says instead the sparks shot toward her and her daughter at temperatures of 1,000 to 2,000 degrees.
Ms. Ware’s daughter was “engulfed” by the sparks and suffered multiple serious burns on her face, arms, hands, and legs, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit claims Ms. Ware’s dress melted and that she suffered from “extreme terror and distress” from seeing her infant burn in her arms.
The boy, in a separate incident, also suffered serious burns. According to the complaint, the Mammoth California Candle malfunctioned in the same way, causing the skin on his torso to “melt away.”
According to The Register-Guard, the plaintiffs claim that “NC Industries sent a letter June 24, 2015, to Fundz 4 Kidz and Aaron Taylor, informing him that the California Candles were known to misfire and cause burn and injury hazards to users. The letter also claimed that the fireworks were a ‘risk to the public” and should be removed from sale “immediately,” according to the lawsuit.
Additionally, those who already purchased the fireworks “should be advised to stop using the product,” the letter stated, according to the complaint.
The suit alleges “NC Industries was negligent for distributing the Mammoth California Candle, not adequately warning customers or retailers about the firework, not contacting the Consumer Product Safety Commission to perform a national recall before the Fourth of July, not publicizing the dangers of the firework, and selling it with a label stating it could be used near or by children,” The Register-Guard reports.
Mr. Taylor and Fundz 4 Kidz “were also allegedly negligent by continuing to sell the Mammoth California Candle knowing it could malfunction and burn users, not warning customers, not publicizing the dangers, and labeling it as safe for use near or by children, the lawsuit states,” according to The Register-Guard.
Mr. Taylor, who is also a pastor at Crossfire World Outreach Ministries in Eugene/Springfield, Oregon, told The Register-Guard in an interview that he is “very sorry.”
“We don’t ever want to see anyone hurt. We (sell fireworks) to help our community, that’s what the whole idea is based off of. We definitely don’t sell fireworks” to cause injury, he told The Register-Guard.