Louisiana couple sues grill manufacturer after son fatally burned

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 8, 2011, 4:00pm

Royal Oak 30-inch Deluxe Charcoal Grill

TEXARKANA - After their son suffered fatal burns from a charcoal grill, a Bossier Parish, La., couple has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the grill for not warning of the product's defective nature.

Daniel Hamm and wife, Heather Hamm, individually and as representatives of the Estate of Joshua Blake Hamm, filed suit against Royal Oak Enterprises on Aug. 4 in the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division.

The incident occurred on Aug. 31, 2009, as the family was having a cookout. Twelve year-old Joshua was grilling hamburgers and opened the lid to the grill and turned the hamburgers over. When he closed the grill lid, the charcoal door handle flew open.

When it flew open, it emitted flames which Joshua inhaled. He was severely burned and was transported to a burn unit in Dallas. During the trip he went into cardiac arrest and was diverted to a hospital in Paris, Texas. He was finally transported to the Children's Hospital in Dallas where he died from his injures the next day.

The grill at issue is a Model 92930 30-inch Deluxe Charcoal Grill made by Royal Oak Enterprises and purchased from a Wal-Mart in Paris, Texas, in May 2009.

The manufacturer of the grill is accused of negligence, gross negligence, strict products liability and breach of implied and express warranty. The plaintiffs argue that the grill was unreasonably and dangerously defective because the charcoal door is not properly secured . The plaintiffs claim the handle was defectively designed in that it did not prevent the charcoal grill from unintentionally opening when the lid was closed and that the closing of the grill lid forces the charcoal door to open, thus emitting flames and fumes.

Royal Oak Enterprises is also accused of failing to provide adequate instructions or warnings on the proper and safe use of the grill, failing to warn of the risks, nature and extent of danger associated with closing the lid on the grill, and failing to use safe alternative designs.

The parents are seeking damages for funeral expenses, pecuniary loss, loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel and contributions, love, affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, emotional support and happiness, mental depression, anguish, grief, sorrow, medical expenses, pain, suffering, mental anguish, pecuniary loss, wrongful death damages, interest and court costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by John R. Mercy of Mercy, Carter, Tidwell LLP in Texarkana and M.Mark Lesher of Lesher & Associates in Texarkana.

A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 5:11-cv-00152

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