A young mother purchased a child stroller at a local mass merchandiser store in Indianapolis, Indiana in the early summer. Later that day, she wanted to bring her infant daughter to visit the child’s grandparents about two miles away.
With the child safely strapped in the new stroller, the mother pushed her daughter for about an hour. However, she had to stop twice to comfort her baby, who was crying and appearing uncomfortable.
When they arrived at the grandparent’s house, the mother checked the baby’s diaper to see if it was the cause of the crying; she then noticed that the baby had red welts on her thigh and buttocks. The mother washed off the red areas but the baby’s condition worsened during the night. The mother brought the child to the emergency room in the morning. The baby had second- and third-degree burns on her buttocks and thigh which the doctors determined to be chemical burns requiring several skin graft operations. Following the appointment, the mother checked the stroller and found a thick green substance under the seating pad as well as on top of the seating pad. Despite several months of painful recovery, the baby was left with permanent scars. The mother sought legal recovery, filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the stroller.
A chemical consultant was retained by the plaintiff’s attorney. They were used in order to investigate the green chemical substance and determine if it was hazardous on direct contact with the skin. The green substance was submitted to an analytical chemistry laboratory, which found the presence of an industrial cleaning chemical. The cleaning chemical was researched by the consultant, and found to be hazardous on direct skin contact. The consultant then asked to see a list of the hazardous chemicals that were used by the stroller manufacturer along. Also asking for their material safety data sheets (MSDS), either in manufacturing the stroller or for any other operational use.
The review of the list of chemicals revealed that there were two cleaning materials in inventory at the manufacturer. A review of the MSDS’s of the two cleaning materials showed that both contained the green chemical substance found on the seat pad of the stroller. Furthermore, the MSDS of the green chemical substance confirmed that the chemical was, indeed, hazardous on direct contact with the skin. The MSDS clearly identified the specific hazardous effects of direct skin contact as reddening of the skin, lesions, and possible serious burns.
The plaintiff’s expert witness established that a chemical used in and around the stroller factory was the same chemical that was found on the same stroller which injured the baby. As that chemical is known to be hazardous on direct contact with skin, the expert witness helped the plaintiff establish their case against the defendant-stroller company. Shortly after the expert’s report of opinion and deposition regarding their findings, the defendant agreed to settle the case prior to trial. Accordingly, the case settled in favor of the plaintiff.
About The Author
EXPERT WITNESS E-004564
This article was authored by an expert with more than 30 years of experience in the research industry. He is uniquely suited to evaluate labels, warnings, and instructions as they relate to the safe use of products.
B.S., Chemistry, University of Illinois
M.S., Organic Chemistry, University of Minnesota
Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, Loyola University
Member, American Society of Testing Materials
Member, American Society of Quality Control
Former, Senior Research Scientist, Continental Can Company
Former, Manager / Technical Director, Rust-Oleum
Former, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, Roosevelt University
Former, Industrial Research Consultant, Northwestern University
Former, Executive Director, Pra Laboratories
Former, Vice President of Research & Development, Roman Adhesives
Current, Consultant at a private firm