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Joining other jurisdictions such as Washington Township in New Jersey and Springfield, Ohio, Fulton County, Ga., now has its own flaming Pop-Tarts suit. Allstate Insurance Co., filing on behalf of an insured, Deanna Robinson, is suing the Kellogg Co., makers of numerous varieties of Pop-Tarts, claiming that the toaster treat was the proximate cause of a Nov. 13, 2000, house fire that caused $10,742.16 in property damage. The short complaint says that Kellogg’s “negligently manufactured flammable Pop-Tarts” that caused the damage. Allstate is also suing the toaster manufacturer, Hamilton Beach/Proctor-Silex Inc. Allstate v. Hamilton Beach, No. 02VS037164E (Fult. St. Aug. 16, 2002). Fulton County’s is not the first such suit. Last year, a New Jersey couple sued Kellogg’s after a Pop-Tart left in a toaster set their house ablaze, according to press accounts. Thomas Nangle of Ohio, who was sued for allegedly causing property damage to a home after his Pop-Tarts caught fire, countersued Kellogg’s for the damages. Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry made that case famous in a 1993 column. Barry wrote that he had long held a “keen scientific interest in combustible breakfast foods,” and so decided to conduct his own Pop-Tart experiment under properly controlled conditions: His wife was not at home. He described “scary flames shooting up 20 to 30 inches out of both toaster slots,” a dramatic moment akin to Manhattan Project atomic scientists in New Mexico who witnessed “the massive blast that erupted from their first crude experimental snack pastry.” Nangle’s lawyer had told the press he might call Barry as a witness, but wound up settling the case. Kellogg’s paid $2,400 in what the company said at the time was a nuisance settlement. The case spawned numerous humor Web sites. One of Allstate’s attorneys in the Fulton County case, Mike O. Crawford IV, an associate with Mary A. Miller & Associates, said he didn’t have details on the local fire handy. But, he said, there is “some evidence suggesting that some of these Pop-Tarts or these toaster pastries have been flammable in the past,” or more flammable than they should have been. Kellogg’s, in its answer, denies any liability and has asked the court to award it costs and attorney fees. The company is represented in the Fulton County case by James D. Meadows and Christopher S. Anulewicz of Atlanta’s Meadows, Ichter & Bowers. Neither could be reached for comment. Kellogg’s has maintained, according to press accounts, that Pop-Tarts are safe and don’t cause fires.

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