A team of attorneys from Blankingship & Keith, PC – Robert Stoney, Peter Everett, Mark Towery, Chidi James and Jessica Sura – has secured settlements totally just over $3 million for a 4-year-old boy who was severely scalded when a free-standing range toppled over on him. David Nestor of Fairfax, Virginia, served as co-counsel for the plaintiff.
In February 2012, the plaintiff was playing with another boy in an apartment rented by his family. His mother was cooking noodles on the range in the kitchen. When the boys put weight on the oven door, the range toppled over, dousing them with boiling water. The plaintiff suffered burns to 20 percent of his body. Unknown to the mother, the landlord and property manager had failed to install a necessary anti-tip bracket on the range, leaving the range top-heavy and unstable.
In the 1980s, the range industry and the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that free-standing ranges are top-heavy and can tip over if sufficient weight is placed on the door. Kitchen ranges can kill or seriously injure young children when they tip over. The CPSC has documented more than 40 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries caused by range tip overs. The majority of victims are children under 5 years old and the elderly. For those who survive, their predominant injury is scalding from hot liquids falling from the tipping stove.
Since 1991, all free-standing ranges must be designed to remain stable when a person’s weight is on the open oven door. This protects small children who can climb onto the door to see what is on the stove, and elderly people who may fall against an open door or use it to stand up after putting something into the oven.
Rather than design the ranges to be inherently stable, the range manufacturing industry has opted to sell their products with a small “L” shaped bracket that must be installed behind the range to keep it stable. Unfortunately, landlords and sellers often fail to install them, leaving this hidden danger in apartments and homes with young children. Manufacturers of these products have long known that the brackets can be difficult to install and are rarely installed, but have continued to rely on the bracket to stabilize their products.
The landlord and property manager settled the case 10 days before trial. The range manufacturer had earlier settled with the plaintiff for a confidential amount.