Kenneth A. Brown, Ph.D. ::::
Case Synopsis: In early summer, a young mother purchased an infant stroller at a local store. With the infant safely strapped in the new stroller, she walked for about an hour, stopping twice to comfort her baby who was crying and appeared uncomfortable. When they arrived at the grandparent’s house, the mother checked the infant’s diaper to see if that was the cause of the crying and noticed red welts on the baby’s thigh and buttocks. The mother washed off the red areas; however, the condition worsened that night. The next morning the mother took her infant to the emergency room and was informed that the infant had 2nd and 3rd degree chemical burns on her buttocks and thigh. The mother checked the stroller and found a thick, green substance under the seating pad as well as on top of the seating pad. Over the next several months, the infant required several skin graft operations and had long periods of painful recovery which resulted in permanent scars.
Expert Analysis: The plaintiff’s attorney filed a product liability suit against the manufacturer of the stroller. A chemical consultant was retained in order to investigate, and determine, what the green chemical substance was, and its hazardous nature. The green substance was submitted to an analytical chemistry laboratory, which found the presence of an industrial cleaning chemical. The cleaning chemical was researched by the consultant, and found to be hazardous on direct skin contact. The consultant requested to see a list of the hazardous chemicals, along with their material safety data sheets (MSDS) utilized by the stroller manufacturer either in manufacturing the stroller or for any other operational use. The review of the list of chemicals found that there were two cleaning materials in inventory at the manufacturer. A review of the MSDS of the two cleaning materials showed that both of them contained the green chemical substance that was found on the seat pad of the stroller. The MSDS of the green substance confirmed that the chemical was, indeed, hazardous on direct contact with the skin. The MSDS clearly identified the specific hazardous effects of direct skin contact as reddening of the skin, lesions and possible serious burns.
Result: The expert found evidence that a chemical used in and around the stroller factory was the same chemical found on the stroller when the infant was injured; and that the chemical was known to be hazardous on direct contact with skin. Shortly after the expert’s report of opinion and deposition regarding the above findings, the defendant agreed to settle the case prior to trial.
Kenneth A. Brown, Ph.D. is a consultant with DJS Associates and can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or by phone at 215-659-2010.