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Gas Fireplace Burn Lawsuits

Legal Action involving fireplace burns and gas fireplaces

 

On June 2, 2011 a federal judge in Oakland, Calif. approved a class action settlement requiring a top fireplace maker to offer to send protective screens to more than 500,000 owners of its gas fireplaces. Case #: 4:08-cv-00836-CW (JCS).  The company, which did not admit liability, also agreed to pay $4.93 million in fees and expenses to three law firms that filed the case.

 

According to court documents, on May 2nd 2011 a class action suit was filed (case no. 3:11-cv-02146-EDL) in federal court in Oakland.  Class representative of the suit is Sean Whelan of San Francisco; his daughter, two-year-old Signe Whelan, suffered severe burns from a gas fireplace.

 

In June 2009 a toddler was burned at a resort in Breckenridge, CO, operated by Vail Resorts,  case no. 1:11-cv-01526-RBJ-MJW.  According to the suit, hile staying at the Mountain Thunder Lodge, the toddler accidently came into contact with the hot glass front of the gas fireplace and suffered life altering burns to his hands.  Due to the fact that there was no warning given as to how hot the glass would get and the glass had no barrier or safety screen to prevent a child from coming into contact with the hot glass, the plaintiffs are suing the manufacturer for designing a hazerdous fireplace.

 

Lila Stephens, then 11 months old, was burned on the unprotected glass of the fireplace in the family’s room at the Kalahari Resort, Stephens told FairWarning. He said she had skin grafted from her abdomen to both hands, and is making a good recovery.  Stephens, a probation officer from Little Canada, Minn., said he personally was “just devastated” by the accident, “and, I think, like any parent , horribly guilty that I allowed it to happen.” At the same time, he said, having a “giant piece of glass at floor level [that] is allowed to get as hot as your oven on broil…is very upsetting.”  In January 2011, the family filed a lawsuit in state court in Madison, Wisc., naming Kalahari and the companies that produced and installed the fireplace. All have denied responsibility.  The manufacturer that was named in the lawsuit is an industry leader and the only major company that boasts of providing a permanently attached mesh safety screen with all of its gas fireplaces. But for reasons that are unclear, there was no screen in this case, according to Stephens. 

 

 A father is suing Jay Peak Resort and others after his 11-month old son was burned by touching the glass cover of a gas fireplace at a condo the family rented at the resort.  Steve Kleiman of Spring Valley, N.Y. filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Vermont last month (April 2012) on behalf of his son, Doniel, who he said was severely burned in 2006.  "His hands were fused to the glass front," the lawsuit states.  Named in the lawsuit are the resort and its rental management company, the Quebec couple who own the condo and contract with Jay Peak to rent it out, plus the company that sold the fireplace unit that is in the condo.  The Kleimans are seeking damages and relief in the lawsuit and have asked for a jury trial.  They blame all the parties for not properly alerting them when they rented the condo that the fireplace could be operating, that there was no screen, warning or visible instructions, and it was a danger to their son.  Kleiman and his family rented the condo from Jay Peak Management and arrived on Jan. 1, 2006, according to their lawsuit.

 

 

Hospitality Lawsuits involving specific Gas Fireplace injuries at hotels, resorts or restaurants: 


Vail Resorts: In June 2009 a toddler was burned at a resort in Breckenridge, CO, operated by Vail Resorts,  case no. 1:11-cv-01526-RBJ-MJW in Colorado District Court (case no. 1:2011cv01526).  According to the suit, hile staying at the Mountain Thunder Lodge, the toddler accidently came into contact with the hot glass front of the gas fireplace.

Kalahari Resorts: Lila Stephens, then 11 months old, was burned on the unprotected glass of the fireplace in the family’s room at the Kalahari Resort and her parents filed suit due to the  emotional and physical distress their daughter went through.  The little girl has gone through skin grafts to replace skin lost on her hands and is making a good recovery.

Clarimont Inn: (lawsuit was settled out of court) In 2006, Wisconsin lawyer Paul Bucher lost his bid to become the state’s attorney general, but the defeat wasn’t his worst experience of the campaign. That came as his wife was giving a campaign speech at a hotel with their toddler, Anna, and a babysitter in tow.  Exploring the lobby, Anna planted both of her hands on the glass of the fireplace. As the babysitter pulled her away, the child’s melted skin stuck to the glass.  “She was only 2 and saw the fire, and was intrigued by it,” Bucher said. The fireplace “was right on the wall and totally accessible.”  As has been the case with other product hazards, litigation may force change. Wooldridge and her family settled a lawsuit that accused the fireplace maker of failing to disclose the risk of the unguarded glass. Bucher settled a case against the hotel, which he said has since put a barrier in front of the fireplace.

Jay Peak Resort - Vermont:  A father is suing Jay Peak Resort and others after his 11-month-old son was burned by touching the glass cover of a gas fire place at a condo the family rented at the resort.  Steve Kleiman of Spring Valley, N.Y. filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Vermont last month on behalf of his son, Doniel, who he said was severely burned in 2006.  "His hands were fused to the glass front," the lawsuit states.  Named in the lawsuit are the resort and its rental management company, the Quebec couple who own the condo and contract with Jay Peak to rent it out, plus the company that sold the fireplace unit that is in the condo.  The Kleimans are seeking damages and relief in the lawsuit and have asked for a jury trial.  They blame all the parties for not properly alerting them when they rented the condo that the fireplace could be operating, that there was no screen, warning or visible instructions, and it was a danger to their son.  Kleiman and his family rented the condo from Jay Peak Management and arrived on Jan. 1, 2006, according to their lawsuit.

 

This issue is not going away and these Hospitaliy Lawsuits are only going to increase unless safety precautions are taken by installing fireplace safety screens to protect children from touching the hot glass fronts of these gas fireplaces.