Patient Safety News: Connecticut Woman Seeks Millions in Damages from ConAgra

In one of the first cases of its kind, Guillermina Coello of West Haven, Connecticut seeks about millions in damages from ConAgra Brands, Inc., maker of PAM cooking spray, according to a news article. Coello alleges that ConAgra is liable for faulty design of its canisters and failure to warn users of their dangers, which caused her to suffer severe burns.

While Coello was cooking, a can of PAM she had set down far away from her stove exploded and burst into flames.

“I was screaming, there were flames everywhere on the counter, on my clothes, all over me,” said Coello. First- second- and third-degree burns covered her face, chest, right arm, hand, leg, and foot. She needed skin grafts, extensive therapy, and rebuilding of some of her knuckles, and was later treated for infections. Coello was out of work for nine months, and she says she’s still not at full strength and remains physically and emotionally scarred.

Her law firm, also represents plaintiffs from an incident that involved two Yale students cooking at a house in Washington, Connecticut.

Coello’s lawyer said that ConAgra might be at fault for a redesign of their PAM containers that could have caused the accident. To reduce the risk of explosion, ConAgra or a vendor company designed a pressurized tab on the bottom of some larger cans of PAM. The tab can open, spewing its contents quickly to relieve pressure build up. The vented, flammable cooking spray can then ignite when it’s near heat or open flames.

ConAgra hasn’t issued any product recalls. In some cases, cooking spray users have left the cans too close to a stove, but were unaware of any dangers.

The cases claim ConAgra knew about the dangers of bursting or venting cans even when consumers used them properly, and that Coello and the other Connecticut victims used care and kept the cans at a reasonable distance.

Berman & Simmons attorneys Michael Bigos and Christopher Boots are handling claims involving consumers who have been harmed by cooking oil spray can explosions and fires.

“These cases highlight the importance of making safer cooking spray cans to prevent future accidents,” said Bigos. “Many of the injured have endured severe injuries and should be compensated for their pain and suffering.”