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Lye Liability Lawsuit Reinstated In New York

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Yun Tung Chow’s liability lawsuit against Lewis Red Devil Lye manufacturer Reckitt & Colman Inc., Reckitt Benckiser Inc., and packager Malco Products Inc., has been reinstated by the Court of Appeals, saying that New York law requires companies to show a product doesn’t present an unreasonable risk of harm to users when the company is facing a defective design claim.

The original lawsuit was filed after Chow, who could not read the English written package directions, was burned and blinded in one eye after he mixed triple the normal amount of lye crystals with water, which then splashed back as he was trying to clear a clogged floor drain.

The package directed users to wear goggles and gloves, keep their face away from the can and the drain, and to add one teaspoon of lye crystals to the drain and that misuse “may result in splash back and cause serious injury.”

Of the lawsuit reinstatement, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman wrote, “At this stage, defendants cannot rely simply on the fact that their product is what they say it is and that everyone knows that lye is dangerous; that only begs the question at the heart of the merits of the defective design claim: knowing how dangerous lye is, was it reasonable for defendants to place it into the stream of commerce as a drain cleaning product for use by a layperson?” He continued, “Defendants offered no answer to this question, and thus, did not demonstrate their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.” disclaimer: This article: Lye Liability Lawsuit Reinstated In New York was posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 8:09 pm at and is filed under Toxic Substances Lawsuits.

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