The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Recall: Banana Boat Prevents Sunburn, Catches You on Fire?

Sunburns are no joking matter. Not only do they hurt, and make you look more red than a British phone booth, but they can cause skin cancer. Fortunately, the careful application of sunblock can reduce the likelihood of sunburn and cancer from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Unfortunately, it also seems that Banana Boat’s sunblock can catch you on fire, reports Reuters.

To be fair, nearly every aerosol product is flammable. The products even carry warning labels that warn against using the product near fire. Nevertheless, Energizer (the parent company) is recalling Banana Boat sunscreen because the aerosol nozzle may release more of the product than comparable products. More aerosol floating around means more likelihood of clouds of sunblock-fueled flame.

Personally, we thought this guy's lawsuit was a little silly. He filed suit after he was engulfed in flames due to his Banana Boat sunscreen. He applied the product and then proceeded to walk over to his barbeque grill. Boom.

Turns out, if he was using Ultra Mist SPF 30 or 50, he wasn't so silly, as those are the two Banana Boat products that have been recalled nationally. Energizer stated that if a user does not wait for the sunblock to dry before approaching flames, she can catch on fire. If you have one of these products, we'd recommend returning it to the store for a refund or exchange. Or you can simply wait for your sunblock to dry before approaching an open flame.

As for those who have already been touched the flicker of flame due to the oversized nozzles, there is a slight possibility of products liability recovery. Being that there is admittedly a reasonable alternative (and safer) design, Energizer could theoretically be held liable for introducing an unreasonably dangerous and defective product into the marketplace.

However, evidence of a remedial measure, such as a recall or redesign, is not admissible in these cases in federal courts and possibly in Illinois courts as well, as public policy favors keeping such recalls and remedial measures (like redesigns of the nozzle) out of court. This is because we'd rather manufacturers not be reticent to fix dangerous products for fear that the remedial measure will be used against them in a lawsuit.

Any successful claims would still have to prove that the bigger nozzle was more dangerous than a smaller nozzle and that the existing warning label, which tells the user to wait for their sunblock to dry, was inadequate.

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