More lawsuits filed against cooking-spray maker Conagra
Six more lawsuits have been filed against food packaging giant Conagra Brands Inc. alleging the company’s cooking spray products were prone to explode.
Bridgeport-based law firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder filed the suits Tuesday on behalf of eight people who are claiming that they were harmed when aerosol cans manufactured by the Chicago-based company exploded in their kitchens leaving them with serious burns and disfigurements.
“We want to get our clients paid back and compensated,” said attorney Craig Smith, who is representing the plaintiffs. “These are outstanding medical bills and horrific injuries. We also want to make sure that no one else gets burned, if possible.”
At issue is a 2011 redesign of some versions of the familiar Pam cooking spray can, which, the lawsuits say, creates a hazard even though the new design was supposed to reduce the risk of explosions.
The new design incorporated vents at the bottom of the can that would open if the can heats up to relieve pressure and prevent explosions. But when the vents opened, Smith said, the cans would spray flammable contents causing flash fires and explosions.
Smith argued that the decision to redesign the cans was to cut costs at the expense of safety.
“It is beyond irresponsible that, to increase profits, Conagra Brands made and sold cans of household cooking spray that are susceptible to explosion, choosing not to use the safer designs as it had for the last 60 years, and failed to warn consumers about the very serious risks,” Smith said in a press release.
A Conagra spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.
Plaintiffs in the new lawsuits are: ⏩ Maria Mariani, who claimed a canister exploded in April at her mother’s Staten Island, N.Y., apartment while she was boiling water, resulting in burns on 30 percent of her skin.
⏩ Raveen Sugantheraj, a medical student who suffered severe burns to his face, neck, arms and hands when a cooking spray can explode while he was preparing dinner in his Indianapolis apartment in March.
⏩ Paytene Pivonka and Jacob Dalton, a Utah couple who sustained third-degree burns on Nov. 6, 2018, after a can of Pam exploded on a shelf above their gas stove while they were cooking.
⏩ Andrea Bearden and Brandon Banks sustained serious burns while cooking at a relative’s home after a can of Pam exploded in May
2018 after falling onto the stove in Mount Carmel, Ill.
⏩ Reveriano Duran was seriously burned and disfigured on July 16,
2017 while working his shift as a cook at Berryhill Baja Grill in Houston. The lawsuit said Duran had placed a can of Pam cooking spray on a shelf in front of a grill; the can exploded and started a full-scale kitchen fire that was captured on video.
⏩ On July 15, 2017, Y’Tesia Taylor sustained serious burns on her body after a canister of Pam exploded while she was cooking in Greenville, Texas. The lawsuit claims that Taylor had set the can on a cart away from the stove before the incident, which left her with potentially permanent injuries.
“It’s occurring all over,” Smith said. “It’s the same scenario in each one of those cases, and because we’ve been litigating these, we are experienced in that.”
Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder previously filed at least two lawsuits against Conagra making the same claims. One involved a West Haven mother who suffered severe burns after a can exploded while she was cooking for her family in 2014. In the other, two Yale students operating a catering business were injured.
The lawsuit involving the Yale students is ongoing, according to Smith, who said it’s pending in Connecticut Federal Court in Bridgeport.
He was unable to comment on the status of the other case involving the West Haven mother.
One year ago, in response to those cases, a spokesman for Conagra, previously known as ConAgra Foods Inc., issued the following statement:
In response to the 2015 lawsuit involving the West Haven woman Conagra said in a filing, “Conagra expressly denies that the Pam aerosol canister was in a defective condition due to any act of omission, design or practice of Conagra.
“Pam Cooking Sprays have been used safely by millions of Americans for more than 50 years for baking, grilling and cooking. This stands as a testament to both the effectiveness of the product and its safety with proper use. Conagra is sympathetic to the claims being made in the litigation, but Pam Cooking Spray is a product that has stood the test of time. We feel that it is being wrongly accused.”
Guillermina Coello, a New Haven resident with three children, suffered burns on her hands, arms and neck and was in the Bridgeport Hospital burn unit for a month after a can of cooking spray she was using to make beans burst in her apartment. She is shown in the offices of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder. She’s suing Conagra, maker of Pam, through the Bridgeport firm.
Pam cooking spray on display at a market in Palo Alto, Calif.