Last week, six different lawsuits were commenced in the United States against Conagra Brands (“Conagra”) claiming that pressurized cans of Pam cooking spray have caused multiple injuries when they burst into flames or caused explosions.
Cooking spray is often used to stop food from sticking to a pan. It is essentially oil in a can, which also contains lecithin (an emulsifier), dimethyl silicone (an anti-foaming agent), and a propellant such as butane or propane.
The plaintiffs (individuals bringing a case against another in a court of law) are alleging that the bottoms of the cooking spray cans have a venting feature that causes the can to be faulty and dangerous. It is alleged that Conagra introduced a faulty can design in 2011 (which is no longer in production). It is also alleged that Conagra failed to adequately warn consumers of the risks.
Apparently, the aerosol can with vents at the bottom open to relieve pressure when overheated. It is alleged that these vents opened even when the cans were stored and used in a “reasonably foreseeable manner” and that the liquid that seeped out contained propellants that ignited fires.
The vented cans in question are 10 ounces or larger and are sold at warehouse stores like Costco, Walmart and Amazon. They are not the 6 ounce cans typically sold at grocery stores.
The eight individuals who have commenced lawsuits against Conagra live in different states, including Illinois, Texas, New York, Utah and Indiana. The incidents in question occurred between 2017 and 2019.
One lawsuit alleges that in 2017 a man was seriously injured and burned after placing the can of Pam above a grill at his job at Baja Grill in Houston, Texas. As a result of the vent holes, the flammable contents began spraying and caused a fireball to engulf the kitchen.
Another lawsuit alleges that a woman set the can of Pam inside her shopping cart and it immediately exploded. She suffered severe burns and was in a medically induced coma for two weeks as a result of the explosion.
A lawsuit by Y’Tesia Taylor alleges that after using Pam to spray her baking dish to make a peach cobbler, she placed it on a rolling wooden cart adjacent to the stove. After placing the cobbler in the oven, she heard a loud noise and the can began spraying its contents through the u-shaped vents on the bottom of the can and then exploded into flames. She alleges she sustained “burns, scarring, disfigurement, blindness in her right eye, and lung damage”. She further alleges she sustained second and third degree burns to 47% of her upper body and spent more than a week in a medically induced coma.
Another plaintiff, Brandon Banks, was cooking pasta sauce when a can of Pam that sat on a shelf above the stove began to hiss and fell onto the stove. Suddenly there were flames everywhere. He suffered second-degree burns on his arms and hands. His girlfriend, who was sitting on the arm of a love seat five feet away, suffered burns on her face and shoulder.
CONAGRA’S RESPONSE TO THE ALLEGATIONS
Although we do not believe that Conagra has not filed any court papers regarding the allegations made by the plaintiffs, a spokesperson for Conagra Brands has stated:
Even if a consumer is concerned, the vented can design, that is in question, was used in market on a limited number of cans over the last several years, and has not been used in the vast majority of the product sold.
Furthermore, Conagra has released a written statement to reassure its customers by stating:
When PAM is used correctly, as instructed, it is a 100-percent safe and effective product. PAM Cooking Sprays is used safely and properly by millions of people every day and several times a day. The product has been used for more than 50 years for the baking, grilling and cooking needs of consumers everywhere.
All PAM Cooking Sprays include clear instructions on both the front and back of the packaging alerting consumers that the product should be used responsibly as it is flammable and that it should not be left on a stove or near a heat source, should not be sprayed near an open flame, and should not be stored above 120 degrees F.
We redesign packaging in the ordinary course of business, and just as we introduced the vented can years ago, we removed it from active production, earlier this year, as we sought to standardize our cans across the entire aerosol cooking spray product line.
A manufacturer, distributor or retailer of a product can be held responsible if the product is defective or faulty. The product may not have been properly designed, manufactured or sold. It may have been improperly labeled or it did not contain proper instructions for use. If you have suffered an injury as a result of a defective or faulty product, you may have a legal right to compensation for your injuries and losses.
If you or a loved one have suffered a burn or other serious personal injury as a result of a faulty or dangerous product, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP can help. At Cuming & Gillespie LLP, we will review your case and consult with medical experts to provide you with an honest evaluation of a potential claim. We provide free consultations for new clients to review your case and discuss potential options. Contact our office today online or call 403-571-0555 to make an appointment to speak with our award winning personal injury lawyers. We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.