J.C. Penney sues over defective skillet

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Nov. 21, 2013, 3:49pm

SHERMAN - In an effort to receive reimbursement of at least $75,000 in previous settlement and defense fees, J.C. Penney has filed a contractual indemnification lawsuit against the manufacturer of a defective skillet.

J.C. Penney Purchasing Corp. and J.C. Penney Corp. Inc. filed suit against Welco Inc. on Nov. 19 in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division. 

The parties actively engaged in business activities in the 1990’s, including between 1997 through 2001. Specifically, Welco sold cookware to JCP, including stainless steel cookware sets and individual “add on” pieces.

At the time of the purchase contracts, the defendant allegedly agreed to defend and indemnify JCP in the event a claim was made against its merchandise.

According to court documents, Tonja Littrell was injured on Aug. 23, 2008, while using a 12-inch skillet purchased at a J.C. Penney retail store in North Texas. She claims she suffered second degree burns when the handle of the skilled separated from the body of the skillet, causing hot grease to splash and ignite, burning her legs and arm.

Littrell filed a lawsuit against J.C. Penney in Collin County.

J.C. Penney invoked the duties of the defense and indemnity based on the contract with Welco. However, Welco denied it was the manufacturer. J.C. Penney entered into a confidential settlement agreement with Littrell on Oct. 11, 2012.

The defendant is accused of breach of contract for the duty to defendant and indemnify, and the duty to provide liability insurance.

The lawsuit is seeking an award of more than $75,000 in damages for the settlement and defense of the Littrell litigation, attorney’s fees, court costs, and interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Laura D. Schmidt of Downs & Standford PC in Dallas.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 4:13-cv-00684

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