GALVESTON, Texas (CN) – A Texan sued Victoria’s Secret in federal court Friday, claiming she suffered third-degree burns after one of its hoodies touched a stovetop burner and burst into flames.
Founded in San Francisco in 1977, Victoria’s Secret is the most prolific U.S. seller of women’s lingerie, with stores throughout the country and annual sales in the billions of dollars.
It’s known for featuring supermodels in racy catalog photos and commercials that critics call soft-core porn.
Victoria’s Secret is owned by L Brands Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based company that also owns the Bath & Body Works chain.
Samantha Burke says in her lawsuit that she used to relish relaxing at home in her soft and comfortable Victoria’s Secret sweatshirts and T-shirts. On Nov. 21, 2016, she says she heated up some soup on her gas stove while wearing a hoodie from the company’s PINK apparel line.
Victoria’s Secret sells its PINK hoodies online for $35 to $70.
“While moving the soup from burner to countertop, Samantha Burke smelled something burning and realized that the drawstring on her Victoria’s Secret PINK hoodie had caught fire,” Burke says in the complaint. “As she set the soup on her counter, she saw flames on the right side of her body.”
Alarmed by her scream, Burke’s husband yelled at her to drop to the floor and roll. “She did, but the fire did not go out immediately,” the complaint states.
Burke and her husband finally put out the fire with their bare hands and he called 911, she says.
Doctors diagnosed Burke with third-degree burns and put skin grafts on them before placing her in an airplane splint, which fixes the patient’s arm at shoulder level to aid the healing process, according to the complaint.
Burke says she spent weeks in the splint, which forced her into a posture that made her body ache, and pain medication gave her little relief.
“Even sleep provided no relief. Her sleep was haunted by nightmares of being trapped in fire in her home,” the lawsuit states.
Burke says she healed enough to go back to work in January, and did so thinking that immersing herself in her job would distract her from her constant pain.
But Burke says she became distraught when her doctor said her burns had “reached ‘maximum improvement,’” meaning she is stuck with the scarred skin that cannot be exposed to sunlight or heat.
Even work provided no solace. Burke says she recently gave a presentation in a light sweater at a national meeting for her job, where her colleagues praised her for working hard while recovering from her burns.
“She could not enjoy their praise, however, because her sweater irritated her skin so badly that as the day progressed, her skin began to bleed,” the complaint states.
Burke’s attorney Jennifer Rustay declined to tell Courthouse News what kind of work Burke does, what parts of her body were burned and what kind of material made the sweater catch fire. “At this point we’re referring all questions to the complaint,” Rustay said.
Burke wants punitive damages for products liability, gross negligence, negligent design and negligent failure to warn. She also wants Victoria’s Secret to pay her hospital bills.
The defendants are Victoria’s Secret Stores LLC, Victoria’s Secret Stores Brand Management Inc. and Victoria’s Secret Direct Brand Management LLC.
Victoria’s Secret did not respond Friday when asked to comment on the allegations.
Rustay is with the Houston firm Hagans Montgomery & Rustay.
Victoria’s Secret has been sued 19 times since 2004, including four class actions, by women alleging product liability and claiming they were either burned when a candle caught their lingerie on fire, they suffered allergic reactions to lingerie, or bras injured them and left scars, according to Courthouse News’ database.