Upholstered Furniture Flammability Cases


SOFA FIRE KILLS TWO, INJURES SMALL CHILD IN SOUTH CAROLINA

A seventy four year old grandmother and her five year old grandson died in an evening fire on April 30, 2000, started by a small lighter in contact with a polyurethane cushioned sofa. A one year old granddaughter also sustained lung and moderate brain injuries from smoke inhalation. The highly flammable non-fire retardant filling materials accelerated the fire, which quickly developed lethal conditions in the small Anderson, South Carolina home. Foster Law Firm brought suit against the maker of the sofa with cause of action of Product Liability in United States District Court in South Carolina. Charles Wright, as Personal Representative v. JOHN DOE Furniture Company, Case Number 8:00 3xxx20. Mr. Robin Foster of the Firm was able to locate an exemplar sofa and subject it to a small ignition source. Click HERE to see our video gallery and view the dramatic raging inferno generated by this three seat sofa. The company president state in his sworn deposition he would not be proud to have his name associated with this product! The parties settled the case through a court ordered mediation in 2004 by way of a confidential settlement. Call or email Mr. Foster if you have any questions.


South Carolina Furniture Fire Case

In May 1999, Foster Law Firm reached an out of court settlement in an upholstered furniture fire case on behalf of the estate of a 26 year-old female who was killed as a result of a residential home fire, and her 28 year-old husband, who was burned over 85% of his body while trying to rescue his family from the burning home. Motts v. Mohasco Upholstered Furniture Corp., Civil Action Numbers 97-CP-42-1460; -1461; and -1462 ( View civil complaint) - ( Read full case summary) - ( Watch this sofa burn) - (Watch Mr. Motts and Mr. Foster interviewed by CBS News and on TV's Extra)


Kentucky Furniture Fire Case against Berkline Corporation - See this Sofa Burn

Foster Law Firm, L.L.C. was associated by Kentucky counsel in a case on behalf of the husband of his 24 year old wife and the estates of three (3) young children who perished in a residential home fire involving a Berkline sectional sofa manufactured by the Berkline Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lifestyle Furnishings International, LTD and purchased/leased from Rent-Way, Inc. The sofa was ignited on May 29, 2000, by a child playing with a cigarette lighter. The fire accelerated quickly to dramatic proportions as a result of the flammable materials of the sofa's construction, causing the deaths of these individuals. The amended complaint was filed December, 2001 in Jefferson Circuit Court and the case is styled Scott Logsdon, Individually and as Administrator for the Estates of Leslie Hibbs, Faith Hibbs, Destiny Hibbs and Forrest Hibbs vs. The Berkline Corporation, Lifestyle Furnishings International, LTD, Rent-Way, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 01-CI-03640. The case was resolved in 2005. Click here to see a full scale burn test of the same model sofa in the actual fire.


Elderly Woman Perishes in Medical Lift Upholstered Chair Fire

Foster Law Firm LLC was associated by Alabama counsel to sue upholstered lift chair manufacturer Bushline Inc., and the retailer of the chair, in a case in which an electrically operated medical lift chair killed an eighty four year old woman, who ignited the chair while lighting a cigarette, but could not effect timely escape from the burning chair, despite engaging the lift mechanism. The non- fire retardant foam used as cushioning burned like "solid gasoline", and she was burned over approximately 85% of her body in the Florence, Alabama fire, which occurred on December 10, 2005. The suit is styled Hughey Tippett, as P.R. of Naomi Burden, vs. Bushline, Inc., et. al., CV-2007-900116.00, Lauderdale County, Al., 10/23/07. The apartment was furnished with an operable smoke detector, but the speed of the fire prevented Ms. Burden's timely rescue.

The parties reached a confidential settlement of the case at a mediation held January 11 , 2010.


CANDLE USED IN POWER OUTAGE IGNITES SOFA

Foster Law Firm LLC filed suit in July, 2005 on behalf of a man and his wife whose electrical power was wrongfully terminated to their South Carolina mobile home, made by Fleetwood Homes of Georgia, Inc. The power company, Progress Energy Carolinas, Inc., who wrongfully terminated the electrical power, forced them to use candles to see until the power issue could be addressed the next day. On April 27, 2005, the evening following the termination earlier in the day, a candle lit to provide light that evening fell from a wall sconce, igniting the upholstered furniture made by Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc. It produced an extremely rapidly developing fire. As Mrs. Graham exited the front door in the same room, the fire ventilated itself with fresh oxygen and Mr. Graham, behind her, had to retreat to find an alternative way out. He unsuccessfully tried to operate the emergency egress window (made by Phillips Inc.) in his bedroom and was overcome by the smoke and toxic gases from the burning sofa, which had quickly filled rooms remote from the origin with dangerous combustion products. Thankfully, Mr. Graham was rescued alive by firefighters, but suffered burns over 17% of his body and serious pulmonary injuries from breathing the poisonous gases. His medical bills total 1.13 million. The Grahams claim both the extremely flammable Bassett sofa, as well as the emergency egress window were defective, and that the smoke alarms installed by Fleetwood should have contained battery back-ups to allow operation during power outages. The suit is styled Wallace Graham et al, v. Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc., Fleetwood Homes of Georgia, Inc., Progress Energy Carolinas, Inc. and Phillips Inc., Case number 4:05-CV-2895-TLW. The parties reached confidential settlements with all defendants except the power company. The trial judge granted summary judgment to Progress Energy Carolinas, which the Grahams appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The oral argument on the appeal was set for May 12, 2010. Click here to read the Grahams brief in support of reversing the dismissal of Progress Energy.

Foster Law Firm wins a reversal of the dismissal of the Grahams case by Fourth Circuit opinion dated June 25, 2010. Click Here to read it.
The case now returns to the District Court for trial.


SECOND SUIT FILED AGAINST BERKLINE

Foster Law Firm, L.L.C. was associated on behalf of a mother who was seriously injured and lost her children, ages 8 and 14 in a house fire which occurred in September, 2003 in Greene County Tennessee and small ignition source ignited the sectional sofa manufactured by Berkline/Benchcraft and which contained an electrical massage/heating mechanism. The fire grew to dramatic proportions making injury free escape impossible. The children perished, being overcome by smoke and toxic products of combustion. Dawn Guthry sustained serious injuries in the fire, including burn injuries, pulmonary injuries and incurred approximately $90,000.00 in medical expenses. The suit is styled Dawn Guthry, et al v. Berkline/Benchcraft Holdings, The Berkline Corporation, Raffel Product Development Company, Inc., et al, Case number 04CV653, Cir. Court for Greene County Tennessee.


MAN INJURED FIGHTING FURNITURE FIRE

Foster Law Firm, L.L.C. filed suit October, 2005 against Peoploungers arising out of a January 28, 2005, fire which ignited a couch made by Peoploungers, containing extremely flammable cushioning materials. Ernest Johnson escaped the room of origin, but in an effort to save his property, tried to extinguish the fire with a garden hose while standing on the front porch in the doorway of the den where the sofa was burning. He collapsed in the doorway, overcome by heat, smoke and toxic gases from the dangerous burning upholstered furniture, which did not contain fire retardants, and luckily was rescued by firefighters. He sustained full and partial thickness burns to 10% of his body and moderate pulmonary injuries. His medical expenses are $150,000.00. The suit is styled Ernest Johnson v. Peoploungers, Inc., et al, Case number 0:05-3044-MJP, United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.


SIX DEATHS - FIVE INJURIES IN MOBILE HOME FIRE FUELED BY FOAM FILLED SOFA

Foster Law Firm, L.L.C. was associated as counsel for plaintiffs in claims filed in May and July, 2004, against upholstered furniture maker Futuristic, Inc., of Bean Station, Tennessee, and a mobile home manufacturer, Oakwood Homes (now in bankruptcy). The claims arise out of a July 9, 2003, Jacksonville, North Carolina fire, started in the manufactured home occupied by the plaintiffs, by a mentally challenged child, who ignited a candle with a cigarette lighter.

The polyurethane foam filled couch, made by Futuristic, Inc., ignited and within minutes, filled the mobile home with intense heat as well as thick, black toxic smoke, trapping 6 of his siblings, who perished in the fire. His mother, along with help from neighbors, was finally able to break out a bedroom window, where 4 children were rescued, but sustained severe smoke inhalation injuries. The mother nearly bled to death from the lacerations caused by the large shards of glass which remained in the window frame, which was not made of safety glass.

The plaintiffs allege the sofa was excessively flammable and exhibited a high rate of fire growth, with release of high heat and toxic by-products of combustion. Plaintiffs allege construction defects in the manufactured home, including inadequate draft stops, emergency egress windows and smoke alarms. The cases are styled Boyd Tisdale, Administrator of the Estate of Amanda Leigh Ann Turner, Estate of Doreen Shavanet Oates, Estate of Jessie LaMont Oates, Jr., Estate of QuaNesh Maria Lavette Oates, Estate of Diamond Faith Carol Perez, and Estate of Angela Lynette Avila, vs. Futuristic, Inc. and Oakwood Homes Corporation, Case No. 04 CVS 1714 and Boyd Tisdale, Guardian ad Litem for Lauren Ashley Oates, Anthony Oates, Sharetha Lanae Oates, and Latasha Tashae Oates, and Mary Alice Turner, as mother of Lauren Ashley Oates, Anthony Oates, Sharetha Oates, Latasha Tashae Oates, vs. Futuristic, Inc., Case No. 04 CVS 2084 (Onslow County). The parties reached a confidential settlement in March 2007.


TWIN CHILDREN KILLED, MOTHER INJURED BY La-Z-Boy PRODUCT

Foster Law Firm, L.L.C. was associated as counsel for plaintiffs by Alabama counsel in a furniture flammability action against furniture manufacturers La-Z-Boy, Inc., England, Inc. of New Tazewell, Tennessee, and Rent-A-Center, a consumer lease to own company in a case removed July, 2002 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Case No. CV-02-S-1728 NE and CV-02-H-1729-NE, and involving the deaths of twin children and serious injuries to their mother from a June 14, 2000 fire which occurred when a candle fell from a wall sconce to the floor igniting a sectional sleeper sofa containing large quantities of non-fire retardant polyurethane foam both in the sofa and mattress. The highly flammable foam accelerated the fire rapidly, causing the injury and deaths. The occupants initially tried to fight the small fire without success as it rapidly grew to dramatic proportions, releasing thick dark toxic smoke and gases. The case was resolved by settlement for a confidential amount in September 2003.


SMOKE ALARM WARNING NOT ENOUGH FOR ESCAPE FROM SOFA FIRE

Foster Law Firm, L.L.C. was associated by Georgia counsel in a furniture flammability case on behalf of the plaintiff, alleging excessive flammability of an upholstered couch which was ignited from an electrical source and due to highly flammable components of construction, accelerated the resulting fire and smoke by-products causing severe burn injuries and extensive smoke inhalation injuries. The case was filed November 2001 in Bibb County Superior Court, and styled Helen Swain vs. Macon Trading Post, Inc., Mike Faulkner, d/b/a Faulkner Furniture Company, Houston Furniture Supply and Superior Product Sales, Inc., 01-CV-14937 and was brought against the retailer (Macon Trading Post), furniture manufacturer (Faulkner Furniture Company), polyfoam supplier (Houston Furniture Supply, Inc.) and poly foam manufacturer (Superior Product Sales, Inc.). The case was settled in 2004.


MOTHER AND THREE CHILDREN KILLED BY FOAM FIRE CAUSED BY BERKLINE SOFA

Foster Law Firm, L.L.C. was associated by Kentucky counsel in a case on behalf of the husband of his 24 year old wife and the estates of three (3) young children who perished in a residential home fire involving a Berkline sectional sofa manufactured by the Berkline Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lifestyle Furnishings International, LTD and purchased/leased from Rent-Way, Inc. The sofa was ignited on May 29, 2000, by a child playing with a cigarette lighter. The fire accelerated quickly to dramatic proportions as a result of the flammable materials of the sofa's construction, causing the deaths of these individuals. The amended complaint was filed December, 2001 in Jefferson Circuit Court and the case is styled Scott Logsdon, Individually and as Administrator for the Estates of Leslie Hibbs, Faith Hibbs, Destiny Hibbs and Forrest Hibbs vs. The Berkline Corporation, Lifestyle Furnishings International, LTD, Rent-Way, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 01-CI-03640. The case was resolved in 2005.


FOUR KILLED BY NON-FIRE RETARDANT STYLE LINE SOFA

Foster Law Firm, L.L.C. was associated in April, 2001 by Alabama counsel in a furniture flammability action against Style Line Furniture Company of Tupelo, Mississippi. The April 13, 1998 fire resulted in the deaths of four (4) children, as well as serious burn injuries to their mother. The suit alleges the fire, which began in the Style Line sofa, and accelerated by the extremely flammable materials of construction, caused the injury and deaths. The parties reached a confidential settlement of the case in April, 2002.