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Despite Causing Injuries, PAM Cooking Spray Cans Still on Shelves

Posted by Benjamin R. Zimmermann

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Ben litigates personal injury cases, with an emphasis in the areas of defective products, medical malpractice, construction site accidents, and premises liability. Ben’s case wins have been upheld all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Meet Benjamin

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For over 50 years, PAM cooking spray has been a common household product, likely found in your pantry right now. This seemingly safe product has been abruptly exploding, injuring a number of people, sometimes severely. This past year, 33 lawsuits have been brought against its maker, Conagra Brands, Inc.

The people injured all have similar and frightening stories. While using the spray, or shortly after, the can suddenly explodes. These explosions have not only caused fires, but also third-degree burns. Those injured have needed skin grafts and other painful treatment. Some have even become permanently disfigured. In one particularly serious case, plaintiff Y’tesia Taylor heard “a loud noise as the canister suddenly and without warning began spraying its extremely flammable contents…and exploded into flames”. These flames caused one of Taylor’s contact lenses to burn onto her eye, causing her to become blind in that eye. In at least one case, the explosion was even caught on video.

Conagra began making new aerosol cans in 2011 for its cooking sprays 10 ounces or larger. These cans have a U-shaped vent on their underside, meant to make the can safer by releasing excess pressure. The vent has had the opposite effect, releasing flammable propellant and turning the can into a projectile.

Common cooking spray propellants include propane and butane, which are both highly flammable. It is unknown which propellant is used in their products, but Conagra has assured customers that it is USDA approved and safe near food. Conagra’s cooking sprays can be found in most stores and are sold to households and personal chefs alike.

Conagra has stopped producing the cans with the faulty vent design, but still denies responsibility for the injuries caused by its cans. They have not instituted a nationwide recall to ensure the defective cans are removed from store shelves. The result will likely be more injuries and fires.

Conagra should promptly take steps to prevent any more explosions from occurring. Under the laws of most jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, Conagra remains liable for any defect in its product that leads to explosions and injuries.

For assistance in situations involving defective products, SUGARMAN’s personal injury attorneys have experience in product liability cases of all types. Call us at 617-542-1000, email info@sugarman.com, or fill out a Contact Form.