3 Settle Injury Lawsuits Over Martha Stewart Chair

By MICHAEL J. CRUMB | August 12, 2011

Three people whose fingers were snipped off or injured by Martha Stewart patio chairs have won settlements against her company and Kmart, which sold the furniture, their attorney said Thursday.

Des Moines attorney Guy Cook declined to say how much the three – a young girl in Kentucky, a college student in Illinois and a retiree in New York state – were awarded at the settlement conference in Chicago on Monday.

Their lawsuits claimed that the lounge chairs’ legs are defective and snap forward, “serving as a guillotine” for fingers and hands caught between the legs and the chair.

The chairs were designed and branded by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and sold as part of patio furniture sets at Kmart stores. Cook first sued the two companies in 2008 on behalf of a magician and hand model who lost the tip of his finger to one of the chairs in Des Moines. That case was settled in early 2009.

The dollar amounts awarded this week must remain confidential under the terms of the settlements, “but I can tell you that all of my clients are satisfied with the settlement in spite of the injuries they suffered,” Cook said.

The settlements were reached with Sandy Caffoe, a 67-year-old who lost the function of her right hand when two fingers were amputated in 2008; college student Lisa Peterson, 22, who had her right ring finger amputated in 2009; and Kaitlyn Damron, who was four in 2006 when the tip of her left pinky finger was severed.

Cook said Kmart continued to sell the chairs after he filed the original 2008 lawsuit but that they were later redesigned to add another bolt to the legs, preventing the snapping motion. He said he is investigating and pursuing other possible claims related to injuries from the chairs.

(Associated Press writer Ryan J. Foley in Iowa City contributed to this story.)

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