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1. “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. 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 confident settlement.
2. “Highly Flammable Kentucky Couch Fire Kills Disabled Woman”
An exemplar of the actual couch is shown after exposure to a flame the size of a grill lighter for twenty seconds. The actual fire took the life of an elderly disabled woman January 21, 2009 in her home. Even though the home had functioning smoke detectors which sounded, her husband responded to the alarm immediately but could not get her out before the fire quickly got so large he had to give up rescue efforts and escape. The room flashed over in less than three minutes, with upper layer gas temperatures of 1,594 degrees Fahrenheit, and with a maximum heat release rate of over two million watts of energy! Note the fire extending through the doorway after flashover.
Furniture Executive's Comments on Cyanide Gas Produced by Poly Foam Cushions in Company's Upholstered Furniture.
Sectional Sofa Test: This test burn of a Berkline sectional sofa recliner demonstrates how quickly a small ignition-comparable to that of a cigarette lighter-can lead to a room that is completely engulfed in smoke in a matter of minutes. The Berkline sofa caught fire and the materials in the sofa cause the fire to spread quickly and emit thick, black, toxic smoke which filled the room.
Motts Case Couch: In two test examples of a burning sofa, the sofa is engulfed in less than 2 minutes and the entire room is engulfed in toxic smoke in less than 5 minutes from being ignited. This demonstrates why people are incapable of escaping and how a small fire can quickly turn to a fatal fire.
Swain Case: NBC news story discusses the devastating impact of flammable polyurethane foam that is used in most mattresses and upholstered furniture. (The foam was also used in sound barriers which ignited in the Station Night Club fire.) Robin Foster, who represents Helen Swain—a woman whose home was burned by a sofa fire, states that "[The foam] is a highly flammable product that brings about lethal conditions very quickly."
7. “Swain Case - Test Burn”
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Swain Case Test Burn: In the representation of Helen Swain, Foster law Firm initiated the test of a love seat fire ignited by a butane lighter. In 2002 Swain's home engulfed in flames when her sofa was ignited by an overheated electrical cord. The toxic smoke inhalation caused Swain to collapse. She was rescued by firefighters and spent two months in a coma. She sustained serious burn injuries and burn scars on her arms, legs, and throughout her body.
Extra TV story: 'Extra' news story reports on the fire dangers in furniture, mattresses, and other products containing polyurethane foam. Federal laws do not require product manufacturers to fireproof furniture. The story discusses the Motts family (represented by Foster Law Firm) whose home was destroyed by a fire that was ignited by a cigarette lighter on the sofa. The house fire caused the death of 2 family members, severe burn injuries and disability to a child, and permanent emotional scarring to all involved. Robin Foster represented the family in a lawsuit against the product manufacturer for product defects and for failing to warn the public of the dangers of the non-fire-resistant furniture. The case resulted in a confidential settlement.
CBS the Early Show: Foster Law Firm attorney Robin Foster is interviewed on The Early Show on CBS regarding the flammability of the polyurethane foam which caused the Station Night Club fire in Rhode Island to turn deadly in a matter of minutes. The same foam—commonly referred to as 'solid gasoline'—is also in mattresses and furniture, causing devastating fatal fires in homes across the country every day. One example of such fatal fires involves the burned home of the Motts family, represented by Attorney Robin Foster.
Aldridge Video: In a lawsuit against a furniture manufacturer involving a sofa fire, Robin Foster questions/deposes the sofa manufacturer's representative about the safety of the furniture and the flammability of the polyurethane foam in the furniture.
11. “Room Fire By A Sofa”
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Room Fire by a sofa: A fire test shows how a sofa ignited by a candle can engulf an entire room with thick, black, toxic smoke in less than 2 minutes. The test demonstrates how the toxic smoke and fumes can spread to the rest of the home in less than 3 minutes. Nothing can be seen except the toxic smoke in less than 5 minutes. This test truly demonstrates why fires involving upholstered furniture can cause life-altering burn injuries or turn lethal in a matter of minutes.
This fire test for an Alabama furniture fire case, Corbitt vs. American Furniture Manufacturing Inc., shows a view of the fire from floor level with flashover conditions (the temperature at floor level necessary to ignite all combustibles) reached at just over 3 minutes after ignition.
Another perspective of the love seat which was fire tested in Corbitt, showing dark black smoke and flames raging from the doorway for several minutes following flashover.
14. “Flammable Couch Slip Cover Ignites, Killing Two Children”
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On December 22, 2003, in the Plaintiffs apartment in Charleston S.C., a small open flame ignited a sofa slip cover sold by a major retailer, but made in Pakistan. The highly flammable fabric slip cover spread the fire quickly, engulfing the sofa it covered. When the polyurethane foam within the sofa became involved, the fire quickly grew to lethal proportions, and a young child, age 5, and his sister, age 8, tragically met their untimely deaths. The case was filed in South Carolina District Court, Charleston Division July, 2008 against the maker and all in the chain of distribution. The parties reached a confidential settlement in August 2009, following a year of discovery in the case. See the video comparison test above, of an exemplar slip cover like the one involved in the case, verses a naturally flame resistant polyester fiber sofa slip cover fabric (and commercially available at the same retailer), and both being exposed to the same open flame ignition.