An Illinois state jury has returned a nearly $11 million verdict against a concrete sealer manufacturer. The verdict was in favor of a man who was burned over two-thirds over his body in an explosion when he was sealing his basement floor. The Cook County jury found in favor of Andrzej Plizja, who had claimed that The Euclid Chemical Co. failed to warn him about the dangers of using its concrete sealer inside. It was alleged that the product was too flammable to use indoors. The jury awarded him nearly $9.9 million for medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. His wife, Katarzyna Plizja, was awarded $1 million for lost companionship. Matt Passen, who is with the Passen Law Group, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, told Law360:
My hope is this verdict incentivizes chemical manufactures, such as Euclid, to place greater priority on public safety in their design and manufacturer of hazardous household substances.
According to Matt, the following was proved at trial. Plizja was applying a concrete sealer, Increte Crystal Clear VOC Sealer, to the basement floor of his home five years ago. He had opened the windows and turned on a fan, but the sealer’s vapors drifted across the basement floor and were suddenly ignited by a pilot light in a water heater in an adjacent utility room, sparking a flash fire. Plizga sustained burns to more than 66 percent of his body and was hospitalized for several months as he received skin grafts on his hands, arms and legs. A union bricklayer, Plizga said he couldn’t go back to work.
Suit was fjled against Euclid Chemical, claiming that the label on the sealer incorrectly claimed that it was combustible, not extremely flammable, in violation of The Federal Hazardous Substances Act and Illinois state law. The sealer was made with acetone, according to the complaint, which was the only extremely flammable ingredient in the sealer.
It was contended that Euclid used acetone, instead of a safe, less flammable alternative just to save money and marketed Crystal Clear to the general public, without warning that it was extremely flammable. It was stated in the complaint that another of its other products, Clear Seal Water Based, which performs and costs the same, isn’t flammable. Plizga claimed that Euclid knew that the vapors from the sealer were heavier than air and could travel long distances to points of ignition, but the label on the sealer didn’t include warnings about pilot lights in nearby rooms.
The case is in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The plaintiffs are represented by Stephen and Matt Passen of the Passen Law Group. They did a very good job in this case.