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Glass Door That Slashed Throat Called Unsafe

(CN) - A widow blames hazardous plate glass for the death of her retired college professor husband who badly cut his throat on the shattered door of a sandwich shop.

Plate glass, also known as annealed glass, "constitutes a well-known safety hazard when broken because such glass can break into large, sharp and unreasonably dangerous jagged shards if impacted," according to the complaint in Butler County, Pa.

Laminated or tempered glass is safer because it "fractures into small relatively harmless cubes that are less likely to cause significant injury," the complaint adds.

Cynthia Brunken sued Bob's Sub and Sandwich Shop, located in Slippery Rock Commons, and its owner Cindy Marlowe for wrongful death.

Marlowe declined to comment about the lawsuit.

The complaint claims that Marlowe knew the glass doors were unsafe, and, "despite owning and operating the restaurant and premises for decades ... never even attempted to make the plate glass entrance door even marginally safer, such as through the application of widely available safety films that are applied to glass and cost only a few dollars per square foot of coverage."

Glen Brunken had been retired from Slippery Rock University for four years at the time of his fatal accident on June 3, 2013.

School officials told a local newspaper that Brunken had been an "icon" in his four decades of service at the school. Brunken was reportedly carrying a cane when he tripped and fell through the sub shop door on his way to meet a friend for lunch.

His widow's complaint never mentions the trip, saying only that Brunken "contacted" the restaurant's glass entrance doors at around noon.

"Upon contacting the glass entrance doors, one of the panes of glass broke in such a way that it created large, sharp, and unreasonably dangerous jagged shards of glass that caused severe and serious lacerations and trauma to Mr. Brunken's neck, face, head and body," the complaint continues.

Brunken allegedly sustained two deep lacerations to either side of his neck, as well cuts to his face, shoulder and hand.

"After suffering the lacerations and injuries identified above, Mr. Brunken was conscious, alert and screaming in extreme pain and fright as bystanders held towels with direct pressure on his neck wounds as they waited for medical assistance," according to the complaint.

First responders applied bandages after determining that the professor had lost 2 liters of blood, the complaint states. He took an ambulance to Grove City Medical Center and was then airlifted to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Though Brunken was given more blood on the helicopter ride, he was allegedly still bleeding when he arrived at 1:37 p.m. at UPMC.

As surgeons gained control of the bleeding, Brunken allegedly suffered several cardiac arrests and was pronounced dead at 2:03 p.m. due to "penetrating injuries to the neck leading to acute hemorrhagic shock."

His widow says the plate glass entrance door did not conform to safety standards or contain adequate protections.

"The dangers associated with the use of plate glass or annealed glass in entrance doors has been widely known in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and around the United States since at least the 1960's when the National Safety Council and the glass industry worked to form a national standard that required the use of safety glazing (i.e. safety glass) in certain hazardous locations, including but not limited to entrance doors," the complaint states.

A national standard was officially recognized in 1966 and an act was created in Pennsylvania "Requiring the Use of Safety Glazing Materials."

"Despite the known and obvious risks involved with the use of plate glass or annealed glass entrance doors, the glass entrance door used at the Bob's Sub and Sandwich Shop restaurant on June 3, 2013 contained dangerous plate glass or annealed glass, and did not incorporate adequate or safer glazing material, rendering the glass door unreasonably dangerous to customers, business invitees and specifically, Glen W. Brunken," according to the complaint.

The widow added that Marlowe had even "admitted to the 911 dispatcher that Mr. Brunken fell through the restaurant's 'plate glass' door" when called for help.

"Had the glass entrance door to the restaurant contained safety glass or safety glazing material, Mr. Brunken's serious neck lacerations, and ultimately his death, would have been completely avoided," the complaint continues.

Brunken seeks punitive damages. She is represented by David Moran of Moran & Moran.

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