Walmart, Charles Komar & Sons out, but Macy's remains in lawsuit filed by woman whose clothes caught fire

By Dee Thompson | Dec 29, 2017

CHICAGO — Walmart and clothing maker Charles Komar & Sons have been dismissed from a lawsuit filed by an Illinois woman whose clothing allegedly caught fire - but Macy’s remains and faces trial in early 2018.

Norma Walker allegedly was wearing pajamas purchased from Walmart and a jacket purchased from Macy’s one morning in January 2014 while cooking. A flame from her gas stove ignited her clothing, allegedly leaving her with third degree burns over 40 percent of her body. 

Walker filed suit against Walmart, Komar and Macy’s in Cook County Circuit Court in February 2014. Walker asserted product liability for defective manufacturing, inadequate warnings and negligence.

The case was later removed to federal court by Walmart. 

Walmart then requested summary judgment, asserting  “...the sleepwear was not unreasonably dangerous or unfit for its ordinary purpose,” according to a Dec. 19 order by U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo. The plaintiff contended the design of the sleepwear caused it to ignite easily.

Macy’s moved for summary judgment on strict liability claims, breach of implied warranty and negligence claims.

The plaintiff argued “... Macy’s fails to address characteristics of the jacket’s design that caused the fire’s ease of ignition, intensity and rapid spread, and that Macy’s compliance with federal regulations… cannot provide grounds for granting summary judgment in Macy’s favor,” according to Castillo's order.

Walmart and Komar’s motions for summary judgment were granted after the judge found in their favor regarding the negligence claims, and after the court dismissed the other claims against them.

However, the claims against Macy’s remain. 

“The implied warranty of merchantability against Macy’s... may proceed to trial, as [the] plaintiff has put forth enough evidence to show that the jacket was unfit for its intended purpose," Castillo said.

The plaintiff is represented by the firms of Langdon And Emison, of Lexington, Mo.; and the Tyler Law Offices, of Chicago.

Macy's is represented by attorneys with the firm of Johnson & Bell Ltd., of Chicago.

Komar is represented by the firm of Pretzel & Stouffer, of Chicago.

Walmart was represented by the firm of O'Hagan Meyer LLC, of Chicago.

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Organizations in this Story

Johnson & Bell Ltd Langdon & Emison Macy's Inc. Pretzel & Stouffer Tyler Law Offices U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Wal-Mart Stores Inc

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