Foster Law Firm Wins Appeal in Flammability Case against Progress Energy in Fourth Circuit

Robin Foster of Foster Law Firm successfully overturned the dismissal of burn victim Wallace Graham's case against Progress Energy by way of a Fourth Circuit opinion handed down June 25, 2010. The District Court held that Mr. Graham's use of candles to illuminate his home following an alleged wrongful termination of his power, was foreseeable, but that his failure to extinguish the candle before retiring to bed was not foreseeable, throwing the case out for lack of proximate cause. The Fourth Circuit held otherwise however, based in part upon the Progress Energy website which told its customers to have candles ready in the event of storms knocking out power, and to exercise care in placing candle so as to avoid home fires. The Grahams also introduced an NFPA study of home candle fires that found that candles cause approximately 18,000 U.S. home fires per year, and that one-third of those are caused by unattended candles. Interestingly, this evidence was never addressed or even acknowledged by the defense or by the District Court in any brief, order, or in oral argument below. The case was also sent back to the District Court for a jury trial. Mr. Graham incurred $1.2 million dollars in medical expenses and has burn scars over much of his body. Click here to read the Fourth Circuit's decision.