Robert P. Foster

Robert P. Foster

Greenville, South Carolina

Mr. Foster has been practicing with the same firm as a civil litigator since graduating from law school in 1983. While he practices generally in the area of torts and insurance law, including products liability law, he has focused in recent years in representing burn victims in fires which have been caused by, or accelerated by product defects in ordinary consumer or building products, many having excessive flammability properties. Among these are upholstered furniture, mattresses, decorative plywood paneling, clothing and acrylic bathtubs. Many involve mobile homes. Mr. Foster stays abreast with judicial and legislative developments in these areas.

Mr. Foster has settled numerous cases representing clients in these areas, many of which are discussed in the [Burn Injury, Flammability Products] pages of this site. He has also made television appearances on national and regional newscasts which have featured some of the fire cases he has settled:

February - 2004 CBS Early Show

February - 2004 11 Alive, Atlanta, GA - NBC

February 2000 Extra

Recent Article
Is there a time bomb in your sofa? a furniture flammability article by Robert P Foster and Joseph B Zicherman, ATLA Nov. 2005

Representative Cases

Lawing vs. Trinity Manufacturing and Matrix Outsourcing, Opn. No. 5166, S.C. App., Filed Aug. 21, 2013. (Product liability case. Court reversed grant of summary judgment to defendants, granting new trial to Plaintiff Lawing, holding that Lawing, who was an employee in a pipe rack cutting pipe causing sparks to fall upon the product at issue, plastic bags of sodium bromate, a highly flammable combination which caused an explosion, was a “user or consumer” of the product as defined under S.C. Product Liability Act and entitled to bring strict product liability claim. Further, that the sophisticated user doctrine is the law of S.C., and was not preempted by the federal OSHA law which required the bags to be marked as hazardous materials.

Wallace Graham v. Progress Energy, Inc., 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 13086 Decided June 25, 2010, unpublished. (Mr. Graham used candles to illuminate his home the evening following Power Company's wrongful termination of electric service. He forgot to blow out all candles and a fire fell on a sofa. The ensuing fire caused him catastrophic injuries. The Fourth Circuit overturned a grant of summary judgment, holding the trial court erred in finding no proximate cause because it was unforeseeable Graham would forget to blow out the candles before retiring to bed. Progress' web site urged the use of caution in placing candles for light during power outages. The NFPA evidence also showed 34% of all home candle fires occurred with unattended, or abandoned candles during a study from 1999 - 2001)

Allen v. Greenville Hotel Partners, Inc., 405 F. Supp. 2d 653; 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38307 (denying summary judgment to franchisee, in RG's failure to secure rear door to hotel leading to entry of arsonist who started a fire causing 6 deaths and 12 injuries)

Allen v. Choice Hotels International, 276 Fe. Appx. 339; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 9461 Elsie Marie Allen, As Personal Representative of the Estate of Donna L. Swaim, et. al, vs. Choice Hotels International, Inc., 4th Cir., Op.#07-1409, Decided May 1, 2008 (unpublished)(summary judgment affirmed for franchisor despite exercising strict and detailed control over franchisee in fire safety and related matters, and despite not requiring franchisee to install sprinklers in hotel as condition of operation)

Wistafke v. La-Z-Boy, Inc., CV-02-H-1729-NE (Three children died, mother of children injured seriously, in fire accelerated by mattress and upholstered sleeper sofa group made of highly flammable polyurethane foam)

American Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Charleston v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company, 303 S.C. 301; 400 S.E.2d 147; 1991 S.C. LEXIS 16 (Auto servicing exclusion of liability policy held invalid as against statute defining permissive users covered by insurer)

Collins Music Company, Inc. v. William Bryant Lord,  289 S.C. 458; 346 S.E.2d 724; 1986 S.C. LEXIS 412 (Evidence to correct deficiency in service affidavit of Complaint allowed, in action to quash an order to appear for supplemental proceedings)

Cousar v. New London Engineering Company, Inc.,  306 S.C. 37; 410 S.E.2d 243; 1991 S.C. LEXIS 213 (Product liability claim against bag flattening machine maker which severely injured employee when the rollers pulled both arms, and pulled plaintiff up to his neck cutting off oxygen. Right of action by maker against component part maker for contribution did not accrue until machine maker paid or settled the claim. Motion to add third party denied)

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Dorothy C. Gunning, 340 S.C. 526; 532 S.E.2d 16; 2000 S.C. App. LEXIS 82 (Insured could not stack UIM from vehicles not involved in the accident, so no recovery, despite argument that rules of stacking did not apply to first "back home" vehicle, since there was nothing to stack onto)

Hicks v. Piedmont Cold Storage, Inc., 324 S.C. 628; 479 S.E.2d 831; 1996 S.C. App. LEXIS 173 (Employee who died when car fell off tines of company forklift, while repairing plant managers car at manager's request off company time, but at plant with company tools, held compensable under workers' compensation laws)

Hicks v. Piedmont Cold Storage, Inc.,  335 S.C. 46; 515 S.E.2d 532; 1999 S.C. LEXIS 72 (The Supreme Court reversed, holding the corporation received no benefit from the activity. The Chief Justice dissented, stating the company benefited indirectly because the manager would have more time to spend on plant business if the car was fixed on Saturday.)

American Security Insurance Company v. Archie 0. Howard, 315 S.C. 47; 431 S.E.2d 604; 1993 S.C. App. LEXIS 90 (Lack of meaningful offer of UIM coverage; coverage rolled on and stacked for each vehicle with UIM coverage, but in amounts limited to the limits of owned vehicle involved in accident)

Samson v. The Greenville Hospital System, 295 S.C. 359; 368 S.E.2d 665; 1988 S.C. LEXIS 64; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P11,809; 5 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 1274 (Blood shield statute held constitutional upon equal protection grounds, barring implied warranty claim against blood center)

Samson v. The Greenville Hospital System, 297 S.C. 409; 377 S.E.2d 311; 1989 S.C. LEXIS 28; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P12,084 (Provision of blood deemed a service, not a sale for purpose of product liability in South Carolina, barring a product claim for AIDS related transfusion)

Becker v. Estes Express Lines, Inc.,  2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20400 (Court ruled South Carolina law of negligent entrustment not limited to use by intoxicated driver only, in death case resulting in truck accident caused by truck driver with history of seizures, which was known by his employer)

Sizemore v. Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association, 114 F.3d 1177 (4th Cir. 1997) (Court affirms grant of summary judgment to plywood trade association, in spite of association members submitting misleading testing of its member' product, to code officials considering regulation of flammability of product, causing code bodies to be misinformed about the true nature of the flammability of the product.)

Areas of Practice:
Products Liability Including Fires Accelerated by Flammable Products
Fires Causing Burn Injury and Death
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death from Accidents
Workers Compensation

Litigation Percentage:
95% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions:
South Carolina, 1983
U.S. District Court District of South Carolina
U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1996

University of South Carolina School of Law, Columbia, South Carolina, 1983
Honors:  Top 15%

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1979
Honors:  With Honors
Major:  Mechanical Engineering

Published Works:
Is there a Time Bomb in the Sofa?, ATLA, November, 2005

"The Law of Automobile Insurance in S.C." (Editorial Advisory Board), Covington, 3rd ed., 1996

Honors and Awards:
South Carolina Super Lawyers for 2010, Personal Injury, Plaintiff: Product Liability*

Professional Associations and Memberships:
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, 2011

South Carolina Bar, 1983 - Present

Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America™, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

South Carolina Bar, 1990 - 1996

House of Delegates

13th Circuit Resolution of Fee Dispute Board, 1997 - Present

13th Circuit Resolution of Fee Dispute Board, 2004

State Chairman, S.C. Resolution of Fee Disputes Board, 2013

South Carolina Bar, 1991 - 1996
Practice and Procedure Committees

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Phoenix Burn Society

Birth Information:
1957, Greenville, South Carolina, United States of America

*Selections are made by Law & Politics, a division of Key Professional Media, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn. Each year, Law & Politics undertakes a rigorous multi-phase selection process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, independent evaluation of candidates by Law & Politics' attorney-led research staff, a peer review of candidates by practice area, and a good-standing and disciplinary check. Attorneys do not pay for the honor of inclusion and the only way a lawyer can be included is through the selection process.


Areas of Practice

  • Personal Injury- Plaintiff
  • Workers Compensation

Litigation Percentage

  • 100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • South Carolina, 1983
  • U.S. District Court District of South Carolina
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1996


  • University of South Carolina School of Law, Columbia, South Carolina
    • J.D. - 1983
    • Honors: Top 15%
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee - 1979
    • Honors: With High Honors
    • Major: Mechanical Engineering

Honors and Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America , 2009 - 2016
  • SC SuperLawyers - Personal Injury, Product Liability, 2010 - Present

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Board of Trial Advocates , February 4, 2016 - Present
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, 2011
  • South Carolina Bar, 1983 - Present
  • Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America™, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • House of Delegates
  • 13th Circuit Resolution of Fee Dispute Board, 1997 - Present
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • Phoenix Burn Society