Industrial Explosion Suit Gets Green Light

(CN) – The world’s largest producer of printing inks may sue two fire protection companies over a fire and explosion that injured seven workers, a federal judge ruled.
     Sun Chemical Corp. wanted to buy a dust collection system with explosion protection for its U.S. Ink Division factory in East Rutherford, N.J. in March 2011.
     It bought an explosion suppression/isolation system in May 2012, based on marketing materials from Fike Corp. and Suppression Systems Inc. They told Sun their system would prevent catastrophic destruction by containing an explosion within the unit, extinguishing the flame in the dust collector, and averting a second explosion, according to Sun’s lawsuit.
     Sun claims the defendants told it an explosion venting system was not necessary, as the suppression system would release a flame-preventing agent into any ducting containing combustible material.
     But on Oct. 9, 2012, eight days after the defendants finished installing the system on, a fire ignited on its first full day of regular operations, followed by an explosion that injured seven workers, Sun says.
     The workers had been mixing carbon and vegetable oil used in newspaper ink for The New York Times, East Rutherford Fire Department Assistant Chief John Giancaspro reportedly NBC News.
     Sun sued in Newark Federal Court on July 1, 2013, seeking treble damages for consumer fraud.
     A federal judge in March this year refused to dismiss the case based on defendants’ argument that Sun’s consumer fraud claim was subsumed by the New Jersey Products Liability Act.
     U.S. District Judge Faith Hochberg ruled that the “essential nature” of Sun’s claim is not products liability. The defendants moved for reconsideration, which U.S. District Judge Esther Salas denied on June 25.
     Salas found that “Hochberg utilized the appropriate legal standard and properly considered and applied the law.”
     She also tossed the claim that Hochberg “erroneously overemphasized plaintiff’s selective allegations” which “avoided the use of product liability language.”
     Salas’ unpublished ruling states that “Hochberg determined that ‘there are sufficient allegations that the harm allegedly suffered by plaintiff was representation based.’ There is no indication that Judge Hochberg ‘overemphasized’ the lack of product liability language in Sun’s complaint in reaching her conclusion, as SSI contends; rather, it appears that the pleading was properly considered in analyzing the totality and essential nature of Sun’s claim.”
     The defendants did not respond to a request for comment.

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