Cincinnati woman sues ConAgra over exploding can of PAM

By Andy Brownfield - Reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier
Jul 17, 2018, 2:57pm EDT Updated Jul 17, 2018, 4:03pm

A Cincinnati woman is suing packaged foods giant ConAgra over an exploding can of cooking spray that caused burns and permanent disfiguring.

Carrie Jones, 32, of Elmwood Place is suing ConAgra Brands over the claim that a can of PAM cooking spray she was using exploded when it was placed too close to a stove. She filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in April.

A ConAgra spokesman said the company does not comment on pending litigation. Daniel Hare said the cooking spray has been used safely by millions of Americans for more than 50 years.

"This stands as a testament to both the effectiveness of the product and its safety with proper use," he said. "PAM Cooking Spray is a product that has stood the test of time."

The lawsuit stems from an Aug. 24, 2017 incident at an apartment Jones was subletting in Northgate. According to the lawsuit, Jones, who has cooked in her personal and in professional kitchens, was cooking when a can of PAM located on a ledge above the gas stove she was using exploded, causing severe burns, substantial physical deformity and pain and suffering.

Jones told Fox 19 shortly after recovering from the burns that she was unable to work because of her injuries.

The lawsuit claims that PAM contains flammable ingredients like liquefied petroleum gas, propane, butane and/or ethanol, but those are only labeled as "propellant" on the can. The suit alleges that PAM is capable of becoming pressurized and venting those ingredients into a gas flame like the one used by Jones at lower temperatures than ConAgra specified or performance standards allow.

Jones' is the third lawsuit resulting from an exploding PAM can filed by Connecticut attorney Craig Smith of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder. He is joined by Cincinnati attorney Joseph Lyon of the Lyon Firm.

"Carrie sustained catastrophic and permanent burns that will continue to cause her pain and significant emotional distress for years to come," Smith said in a news release. "Burn injuries from defective products are among the most painful and horrific to endure... especially as they often are easily preventable, like Carrie's would have been, had the manufacturer prioritized safety for its consumers."

In an answer to Jones' lawsuit filed in June, ConAgra denied that the product Jones used was defective, or that PAM contains any of the highly flammable ingredients her lawsuit alleges.

ConAgra in its answer claims that Jones failed to read or take notice of warnings on the cooking spray label and that the injuries she sustained were the result of her culpable conduct, including comparative negligence and assumption of the risk.

ConAgra claims that Jones' lawsuit should be barred because the hazard associated with using PAM near a hot surface are generally known, and Jones confronted that hazard knowingly. The company claims that its products comply with industry standards regarding the manufacturing, packaging and sale of such products.

Jones is asking for damages in excess of $75,000.