Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
J. A40005/00

�1 This personal injury action was instituted after a tragic fire killed single mother Robyn Williams and two of her three children, Jerome and Alphonso. The fire was started by a minor child playing with a disposable butane lighter that did not have child-resistant features. Appellant is Gwendolyn Phillips, who instituted this action in her capacity as administratrix of the estates of the decedents and also in her capacity as guardian of Neil, Robyn’s sole surviving child. We find that the trial court improperly granted summary judgment to Appellees on the ground that Appellant cannot recover in this action due to the fact the product at issue was not used by an “intended user.” We also reject Appellees’ contention that federal consumer protection law preempts this action. We conclude that summary judgment should not have been granted to the manufacturers and distributors of the disposable butane lighter used to start the fire under the risk-utility test applied in Pennsylvania to determine whether a product is defective. We reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand.

�2 We first examine the deposition of Neil Williams, who witnessed the events at issue. During the night of November 30, 1993, Neil, who was five years old at the time, awoke in his apartment bedroom after hearing noises in the kitchen. He saw Jerome, then age two years and four months, with a lighter in his hand. Jerome had pulled a chair next to the refrigerator and had pulled down his mother’s purse, which was located on top of the refrigerator. Neil tried unsuccessfully to awaken his sleeping mother. Neil then returned to his bedroom, where Jerome, still with the lighter, also was located. Jerome tried to light the lighter twice. His second effort was successful. The flame ignited the bed linens, and the room began to fill with smoke and fire. Neil unsuccessfully attempted to awaken his mother a second time. Neil then went to a window and started to scream. After suffering from smoke inhalation, he was rescued by a neighbor. The other three occupants of the apartment died. The record also establishes that the lighter was a Cricket disposable butane lighter, which was retrieved from the apartment following the fire.

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.

More From ALM

Premium Subscription

With this subscription you will receive unlimited access to high quality, online, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry. This is perfect for attorneys licensed in multiple jurisdictions or for attorneys that have fulfilled their CLE requirement but need to access resourceful information for their practice areas.
View Now

Team Accounts

Our Team Account subscription service is for legal teams of four or more attorneys. Each attorney is granted unlimited access to high quality, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry along with administrative access to easily manage CLE for the entire team.
View Now

Bundle Subscriptions

Gain access to some of the most knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with our 2 bundle options! Our Compliance bundles are curated by CLE Counselors and include current legal topics and challenges within the industry. Our second option allows you to build your bundle and strategically select the content that pertains to your needs. Both options are priced the same.
View Now

Global Leaders in Consulting (GLC) 2023

February 16, 2023

The Global Leaders in Consulting awards are for those who are making a big impression within the industry, but also worldwide.

Learn More

Complex Claims & Litigation Forum 2023

February 27, 2023 - March 01, 2023
Henderson, NV

Aimed to help Insurers prevent, prepare and prevail In adjudicating complex claims, negotiating settlements and winning cases.

Learn More

Women, Influence & Power in Law UK Awards 2023

March 08, 2023

Women, Influence & Power in Law UK Awards honors women lawyers who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession.

Learn More

ASSOCIATE: Accessibility / Employment Litigation

The New York office of Epstein Becker & Green is seeking an attorney to work at the level of a mid-level or senior associate to join its...

Apply Now ›

MID-LEVEL ASSOCIATE: Traditional Labor

The Los Angeles office of Epstein Becker & Green is seeking an attorney to work at the level of a mid-level associate in its growing nat...

Apply Now ›

MID-LEVEL or SENIOR ASSOCIATE: Labor & Employment Litigation

The Newark office of Epstein Becker & Green is seeking an attorney to work at the level of a mid-level or senior associate in its growin...

Apply Now ›



Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP would like to congratulate Jerry Lehocky and his team on PA's largest workers' compensation settlement.

View Announcement ›



ABOTA NNJ would like to announce...

View Announcement ›



O'BRIEN FIRM would like to announce that..

View Announcement ›