A Cook County, Illinois jury recently returned a verdict of $10,875,622 against a concrete sealer manufacturer, and in favor of a man who was severely burned in a household explosion while using the product to seal his basement floor.
According to the complaint, on June 1, 2010, Andrzej Plizga was applying “Crystal Clear VOC,” a concrete sealer manufactured by The Euclid Chemical Company, to his home’s basement floor. Unbeknownst to Mr. Plizga, the vapors of the sealer migrated across the basement floor to a utility room where they were ignited by a water heater pilot light, causing a large explosion.
Mr. Plizga sustained severe burns to approximately 67% of his body, although there were no facial burns. He was hospitalized for several months where he underwent skin grafts to his hands, arms and legs. This was followed by weeks of inpatient therapy.
At the time of the incident, Mr. Plizga was working as a union bricklayer. Due to the extensive injuries to his hands, plaintiffs alleged he is unable to return to work.
Mr. Plizga and his wife filed a “strict product liability” action against The Euclid Chemical Company. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that the sealer was formulated too flammable for indoor, household use, and also was inadequately labeled in violation of The Federal Hazardous Substances Act and equivalent Illinois law. The defense argued that Mr. Plizga misused the product and assumed the risk of injury by failing to turn off ignition sources or read the Material Safety Data Sheet, as instructed in the warning labels.
The trial lasted three weeks and on April 21, 2015, the jury returned a verdict of just under $11 million in favor of the plaintiffs and against The Euclid Chemical Company. Mr. Plizga’s medical bills and lost wages totaled $2.7 million, with the remainder of the verdict for pain and suffering, loss of normal life, loss of society and disfigurement. The Honorable Judge Lorna E. Propes, Circuit Court of Cook County, presided over the trial.
Matthew Passen stated he is “pleased his clients will be fully compensated and hopes this verdict causes chemical manufacturers and others to take greater care designing and labeling their products to protect the public against unnecessary harm.”