Products Liability

Case: Joseph Ryan et al. v. Cihak et al. (Case Nos. 37-2009-00071001-CU-PO-CTL; & 37-2010-00065247-CU-PO-CTL)
Court: Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego
Judge: Ronald S. Prager
Date: December 4, 2009
Result: $250,000.00 against property manager and property owners; $115,000.00 against Fuel distributor; $125,000.00 against Fuel manufacturer; $125,000.00 against Fire Pit manufacturer and retailer; $3,552,075.00 against individual tortfeasor

Facts & Allegations

Plaintiffs Joseph Ryan and Eric Leber were lit on fire when a small amount of racing fuel (the “Fuel”) was poured over a small flame in a fire pit (the “Fire Pit”). Defendant Timothy Bauer poured the Fuel on the Fire Pit. The Fire Pit did not have any warnings on it and the bottle of Fuel lacked any flame arrestor at the pour spout. Plaintiffs suffered a combine total of approximately $900,000.00 in past medical expenses due to severe burns.

Timothy Bauer, along with the property manager, property owner, and the various product manufacturers and distributors of the Fuel and Fire Pit were named in the suit. Ryan and Leber claimed that the Fire Pit should have had warnings against using liquid accelerants to start, restart or accelerate fires in the Fire Pit. Ryan and Leber further claimed that the bottle of Fuel should have had a metal screen (a flame arrestor) at the pour spout of the bottle to prevent any sparks or heat from entering the bottle, resulting in the explosion. Finally, Ryan and Leber claimed that the property owner and manager breached their duties to the occupants of the real property by failing to inspect the property.

Defendants’ denied all of plaintiffs, claiming that plaintiffs and others were intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Plaintiff Attorney(s): Hogue & Belong
Defense Attorney(s): Pope, Berger & Williams; Grimm, Vranjes, McCormick & Graham LLP; Koeller, Nebeker, Carlson, Haluck, LLP; The Roth Law Firm; and Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith.

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