Product Liability – Flammable Clothing
Most people might not think of clothing as being flammable, but every year 4,300 people in the U.S. are injured and, on average, 120 die from burns they receive wearing flammable clothing.
Atwilda Brown had no idea. She was making a cup of tea when her defective Blair chenille robe caught fire. The fire ignited quickly and was uncontrollable. She later died from her burn injuries.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled over 162,000 Blair chenille robes and women’s clothing after it found they were made in Pakistan and did not meet standards for flammability under the Federal Flammable Fabrics Act. Nine deaths have been reported among women wearing the flammable Blair robes since the recall in April 2009.
In the 1970’s Congress enacted the Children’s Sleepwear Standard Act which required that certain fabrics resist burns and extinguish before they burn seven inches. The changes brought about a reduction in the deaths from burn injuries.
But the stringent Children’s Sleepwear Standard has not been utilized by clothing manufacturers in general. It may surprise the public to know that most of the clothing they buy can be easily ignited.
Not only is much of the clothing sold in the U.S. made overseas where standards are not rigorous, but the 1953 Flammable Fabrics Act hasn’t changed much since it originated. Its original goal was to remove from the market garments that were highly flammable.
As a standard, the Act set a “Class one normal flammability” which is basically meaningless. Newsprint passes the test of “normal flammability.”
With a designation of “does not ignite,” the public may assume that the fabric will not burn, but in real world conditions the fabric will burn and spread. The standard refers to the rate of flame spread and has been called “imprecise” and “misleading.”
Regulators could incorporate the children’s sleepwear standard into everyday clothing by utilizing a modernized clothing flammability standard. Additionally, children’s sleepwear was made safer when, in April 1977, the CPSC banned the use of the chemical retardant, Tris, on clothing intended for children after a government study linked it to the risk of cancer.
Flame resistance can be created by altering the fiber itself to provide more flame resistance. Flame resistant fibers may have a different molecular structure whereby less of the fiber is exposed. In the case of some uniforms, chemical finishes are applied.
The textile and apparel industries could be producing safer garments, but have not. In addition, it would help consumers if clothing fire warning labels were put in all clothes.
Need a Jacksonville FL Flammable Clothing Attorney?
In a defective product lawsuit filed as a result of highly flammable clothing, the injured party must prove the clothing was defective, unreasonably dangerous, and this defect caused the injuries. An action may be filed against the defendant that sold the fabric or the clothing and the defect in the clothing needed to be there at the time of the sale. The actions could be negligence, breach of warranty, and strict liability.
While many people say they do not want to file a lawsuit, ultimately it is litigation that has led to more responsible action by children’s clothing makers. If you or your child have suffered burn injuries due to flammable clothing, please contact a Jacksonville product defect lawyer at Farah & Farah at 877-245-6707 today.