Blair Faces Lawsuit Over Flammable Chenille BathrobesOct 30, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
The family of an elderly woman who died after the chenille bathrobe she was wearing caught fire has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Blair LLC. As we reported earlier this week, Blair has issued two recalls for the bathrobes and other chenille products because they failed to meet the federal flammability standard and present a risk of serious burns to consumers if the garments are exposed to an open flame.
According to her family's lawsuit, Atwilda Brown, 80, was making her nightly cup of tea in her Connecticut home on Feb. 12, 2005, when the chenille robe she purchased three weeks earlier caught fire. She died two weeks later from her burns.
In a written statement released this week, Brown's daughter, Sharon Davis, said she hoped the lawsuit would raise awareness about the deadly chenille robes.
"My mother suffered a horrible death and experienced excruciating pain. I would like to know why it took four long years to finally make an official recall take place and see Blair punished for violating federal product safety laws," she said.
Brown's family is seeking $30 million. Their lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut.
Brown was one of 9 people, most elderly, who died from burns after the Blair chenille robes caught fire. In April 2009, Blair recalled 162,000 Chenille Robes manufactured by A-One Textile & Towel, of Karachi, Pakistan, after it learned of three robes catching on fire, including one report of second degree burns. Blair then received several reports of deaths allegedly due to robes catching fire. This prompted a second news release in June 2009 to again alert consumers to the burn hazard for the chenille robes.
After this re-announcement, Blair received four additional reports of deaths allegedly due to the robes catching fire. Three of these victims were cooking and a fourth was tending a pellet stove; three of the four victims were in their 80s and one was in her 70s. According to the CPSC, all nine reported deaths occurred prior to the April 2009 announcement of the recall.
Blair also received one report involving one of the additional chenille garments included in the expanded recall catching fire; no injuries have been reported related to these garments. Because of this report, Blair decided this week to expand the recall to include all women’s chenille wearing apparel manufactured by A-One Textile & Towel.The expanded recall included an additional 138,000 units.
All of the recalled chenille products were sold through Blair catalogs and Web site, and Blair stores in Warren, Pa., Grove City, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., from July, 2000, through April, 2007. Consumers are urged to stop wearing the garments immediately. Contact Blair LLC for information on returning the products and to receive a refund or a $50 gift card for Blair merchandise For more information, call Blair toll-free at (877) 392-7095 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET Monday through Saturday, visit the firm’s Web site at www.blair.com/recall, or contact the firm by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.