NY Top Court Reinstates Product Liability Suit

May 12, 2011

New York’s top court has reinstated a Manhattan restaurant worker’s product liability lawsuit against the companies behind Lewis Red Devil Lye, concluding they have to do more than simply state the chemical compound is inherently dangerous and everyone knows it.

Yun Tung Chow, who couldn’t read the directions in English, was burned and blinded in one eye when he mixed three times the usual amount with water, poured it down a clogged floor drain, and it splashed back.

His suit against the manufacturer, distributor and package designer claims defective design. It was dismissed by a judge and midlevel court.

Defendants say he failed to follow label instructions and warnings.

But the Court of Appeals says Tuesday that New York law requires them to show there is no safer but functionally equivalent alternative.

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