VOC sealer-triggered blast nets injured bricklayer eight-figure verdict

Sources: Passen Law Group, Chicago; CP staff

A Cook County, Ill., jury has returned a $10,875,622 verdict against a concrete sealer manufacturer, and in favor of a plaintiff who was severely burned in a household explosion while using the company’s product on his basement floor.

According to the complaint, vapors of the sealer migrated to a utility room, where they were ignited by a water heater pilot light, causing a large explosion. Plaintiff Andrzej Plizga sustained severe burns to approximately 67 percent of his body, although there were no facial burns; was hospitalized for several months, undergoing hand, arm and leg skin grafts; and, attorneys allege, is unable to return to work as a bricklayer due to extensive hand injuries.

Plaintiffs counsel filed a “strict product liability” action, alleging in their complaint that the sealer was formulated too flammable for indoor, household use, and labeled in violation of The Federal Hazardous Substances Act and equivalent Illinois law. Defense attorneys argued that Plizga misused the product and assumed the risk of injury by failing to turn off ignition sources or read the Material Safety Data Sheet, as instructed in product warning labels. The trial occurred in the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 10 L 14488.