Maker of cooking spray products Conagra is facing a wave of lawsuits from burn victims alleging that defective product cans either exploded or caught fire and disfigured them.
At least eight people have filed cases against Conagra after cooking spray cans blasted, severely burning and disfiguring them. A total of six lawsuits were filed in a Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, where the company is based.
The plaintiffs in the cases accused the company of selling dangerous and defective products that quickly catch fire during common cooking use. They allege that the design of the cans is faulty, dangerous, and prone to explosion even when used properly. The victims further said that Conagra failed to sufficiently warn consumers of the risks.
Defective Aerosol Cans Blamed
Based on the charges, in 2011, Conagra started using a new kind of aerosol can for its products in an effort to save money. The new design contains 10 oz. or more with a U-shaped venting mechanism to allow the container to vent its flammable contents in a controlled manner.
The lawsuit claims that the cans were capable of venting at temperatures lower than what Conagra’s standards allow, which is a violation of government regulations for aerosol cans. The vents reportedly opened even when the cans were stored and used in a foreseeable manner. The liquid that seeped out contained propellants such as propane and butane that ignited fires.
The victims claimed that the products were also designed and advertised to be used around stoves and grills, but Conagra did not provide adequate warnings about possible dangers of doing so.
"Each day that these cans remain on store shelves, Conagra’s negligence puts consumers in danger,” said J. Craig Smith of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, who represents the victims in the lawsuits.
Burned And Disfigured Victims
“I’m still shocked at the fact that something I use on a day-to-day basis just exploded and changed my life forever,” said Y’Tesia Taylor from Greenville, Texas, one of the plaintiffs.
Taylor used Pam to spray a baking dish and then placed the canister on a rolling wooden utility cart next to the stove where she was cooking. The can exploded as she finished putting the dish in the oven according to a report. Taylor sustained second- and third-degree burns on 27 percent of her upper body. The incident resulted in her scarring, disfigurement, blindness in the right eye, and lung damage. She spent more than a week in a medically induced coma.
Other individuals who sued Conagra are Maria Mariani from New York City; Raveen Sugantharaj from Indianapolis; Paytene Pivonka and Jacob Dalton from Provo, Utah; Andrea Bearden and Brandon Banks from Mount Carmel, Illinois; and Reveriano Duran from Houston, Texas.
“It’s an everyday routine, cooking for a significant other, and suddenly your face gets blown up,” said Bearden, who got burns on her face and shoulder.
The company said it removed the vented can from active production earlier this year due to a product redesign to standardize the company's aerosol cans. The company said the U-vent design cans were used only on a limited number of cans and not in majority of its the product sold.
Conagra said in a statement that Pam is a 100 percent safe and effective product when used correctly as instructed. The company said it fully stands by the product.
Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr