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Caps Set Boy’s|Pants on Fire

FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) - Ring caps in a Chinese-made cap pistol exploded in a boy's pocket and set his pants on fire, burning his legs and genitals, his parents say in a $10 million demand in Tarrant County Court. They claim the defendant, Energy Club, enticed children by advertising "free candy" on the cap gun's package.

Stephen Mitchell and Synethia Allen say their 4-year-old son was seriously injured, and that Energy recklessly labeled the guns as appropriate for children 3 and older, though the cap gun's manufacturer warned they were not recommended "to children under 8 years old."

The parents claim their son was burned when the 8-shot ring cap that came with the gun exploded "suddenly and without warning," and set his blue jean shorts on fire.

They say their son has been receiving "painful burn therapy treatment" that has cost more than $25,000.

According to the complaint, the "Real Big Shot" cap pistol is made by the Asian Swan Fireworks Co. It uses a pyrotechnic mix of chemicals, known as "Armstrong's mix," a "very sensitive mix" of potassium chlorate and red phosphorus "that is considered to be far too sensitive to be used in any real quantity in most pyrotechnics," according to the complaint.

The parents say that Armstrong mix contains chlorates, which are "one of the few explosives to border the line between high and low explosives."

The family did not sue Asian Swan, of Hunan. The only defendant is Energy Club, of Pacoima, Calif.

The parents say that caps in children's pockets have been "a known hazard to manufacturers and sellers of these devices for decades," and that similar 8-shot plastic ring caps for toy guns had been recalled in 1979 because the "caps fired while children's pockets."

They also cite a Jan. 23, 2001 Consumer Product Safety Commission alert, titled, "Don't let children put caps for toy guns in their pockets" as evidence of willful negligence. They seek punitive damages of $10 million.

The family is represented by Kirk Claunch of Fort Worth.

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