Work light ignites gasoline, causing severe burns to mechanic

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Case in Point

August 9, 2011

Work light ignites gasoline, causing severe burns to mechanic 

The 19-year-old mechanic sued the distributors and seller of the lights, alleging strict liability. The plaintiff claimed that the light was defective and that the defendants had marketed and sold it to automotive repair centers without adequately warning them of the danger of using the light around gasoline. The parties settled for $4.7 million. Mechin v. Carquest Corp.

Jean Michel Mechin, a 19-year-old auto mechanic, was using an incandescent work light known as a Carquest Trouble Light while servicing a vehicle. Gasoline from the vehicle’s gas tank splashed onto the light and ignited, causing second- and third-degree burns over 42 percent of Mechin's body, including his face, neck, arms, and chest. He required multiple skin-graft procedures, and he now suffers from pain, scarring, and reduced range of motion in his neck. He also suffered posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident.

Mechin sued the distributors and seller of the light, alleging strict liability under the state products liability act. The plaintiff claimed that the light was defective and unreasonably dangerous and that the defendants had marketed and sold it to automotive repair centers, despite knowing that it should not be used around gasoline. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendants failed to warn or adequately warn of the dangers of using the light around flammable liquids or vapors. Finally, the plaintiff asserted that the defendants breached an express warranty that the light was safe to use at an automobile repair facility.

The plaintiff did not claim medical expenses or lost earnings.

The parties settled for $4.7 million, including $2.65 million from the distributors and $2.05 million from the seller. The workers’ compensation carrier asserted a net lien of just under $329,700.

Citation: Mechin v. Carquest Corp., No. 2:07-cv-05824 (D.N.J. May 22, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member David A. Mazie and Matthew R. Mendelsohn, both of Roseland, New Jersey.


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