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Plaintiff Can Pursue Punitive Damages Against Bacardi In Strict Products Liability

October 14, 2011

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In [i]Sclafani v Brother Jimmy's BBQ, Inc., [/i]the plaintiff was a patron at the defendant's bar when the bartender, in a pyrotechnic display, poured Bacardi 151 rum onto the surface of the bar and ignited it. The flame spread to the bottle and flames shot out of the mouth of the bottle and burned the plaintiff. She brought a strict products liability action against Bacardi based on a defective design claim. Bacardi moved to dismiss the claim because the bottle included warning labels and a removable flame arrester. The Appellate Division denied the motion, noting that Bacardi failed to submit any evidence substantively contradicting the complaint or the conclusions of the plaintiff's experts. Interestingly, the court noted that Bacardi actively promoted "the very pyrotechnic uses that caused plaintiff's injuries" and declined to dismiss the plaintiff's claim for punitive damages.
Thanks to Bill Kirrane for his contribution to this post.
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