TC Dunham Pays $4.5 Million For 2006 Lacquer Fire

Published on January 20, 2012, 10:17 pm
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TC Dunham Paint & Coatings Inc. (Yonkers, NY) was found liable for about $4.5 million in injuries resulting from a building fire started by a solvent-based wood floor lacquer that ignited, according to the law journal VerdictSearch. The fire occurred in Bronx, in 2006.

TC Dunham has not commented on the case.

Plaintiff Victor Marache sustained third-degree burns on more than 30 percent of his body after lacquer he had applied to a wood floor ignited. A co-worker of Marache’s also sustained extensive burns. Marache later sued the finish retailer, Bronx-based New Palace Painters Supply Co. Inc., and TC Dunham, the finish distributor, alleging that “the product was not accompanied by a warning that suitably disclosed the dangers that could have arisen from its use,” VerdictSearch wrote.

Marache reached a settlement with Akzo Nobel (Amsterdam), the lacquer’s manufacturer, for $4 million. The jury in Marache’s suit with New Palace Painters and TC Dunham found Akzo Nobel was not negligent in its product labeling.

The jury determined Marache was entitled to about $11 million in damages from New Palace Painters and TC Dunham, which was divided among the two defendants 60 and 40 percent, respectively.

The suit highlights the potential risk of product liability exposure of everyone involved in a supply chain, said David Wix of The Wix Law Group in Deerfield, Ill.

“A product this inherently dangerous should probably be chemically reengineered to possess a lower flashpoint,” said Douglas Rose, a litigation attorney for Albany-based Tully Rinckey PLLC. “Absent that possibility, the product’s use and distribution in commerce should be restricted to licensed professionals or accompanied by much more stringent and obvious warnings. This case rose and fell on the theory of failure to warn, and while the vendor cannot insulate itself from the contributory negligence of the end-use, an adequate warning may have persuaded the jury that there was no liability on behalf of the vendors.”


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