In the News

Woman severely burned by exploding can of Pam sues ConAgra

By Kevin Grasha, Cincinnati Enquirer
July 17, 2018

A Cincinnati-area woman is suing the maker of Pam cooking spray, saying a large can on a shelf near her gas stove exploded last year, seriously burning her.

It’s the third lawsuit resulting from an exploding can of Pam that a Connecticut-based law firm has handled in recent years, according to an attorney involved in the Ohio case.

Attorney J. Craig Smith said each of the cases involves the larger cans that are typically sold at big-box stores, which have horseshoe-shaped vents at the bottom. The vents are intended to release pressure and prevent the can from exploding.

“We believe the vents are a design defect,” Smith said. “They cause the cans to burst at a lower temperature than they otherwise would.”

Carrie Jones, 32, was in the kitchen of a Colerain Township home she was living in, cooking on a gas stove, when the can of Pam burst, spraying its contents – which included highly flammable propellants – into the stove’s open flame.

It showered the room with fire, and Jones suffered burns to her face, chest and arms, according to the lawsuit.

Jones, in an interview after the April 2017 incident, told Enquirer media partner Fox 19: “I was exploded upon, and I was on fire.”

The woman who owned the home, according to the lawsuit, had placed the can on a shelf behind the stove. Jones didn’t even know it was there, the lawsuit says.

Jones was taken to a local hospital, where doctors performed skin grafts. She later received outpatient treatment at a burn clinic.

Her injuries, according to Smith, will cause “pain and significant emotional distress for years to come.”

A spokesman for ConAgra, which produces Pam, released a statement saying that the company’s cooking sprays have been used safely by millions of people for more than 50 years.

“This stands as a testament to both the effectiveness of the product and its safety with proper use,” the statement said. “Pam cooking spray is a product that has stood the test of time.”

The lawsuit says ConAgra should have expected that Pam would be used in residential kitchens around gas stoves.

Smith said the negligent design of the cans means they can burst at lower temperatures than the cans that don’t have the vents. ConAgra, he said, hadn’t provided adequate warnings to consumers about that danger.

The federal government, he said, sets standards about the temperature at which the cans should vent.

The lawsuit is pending in federal court in Cincinnati.

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