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New Fireworks Law Leads to “Giant” July 4th Explosion

At least one high-profile New Yorker took advantage of the state’s new fireworks law, and in doing so reminded us why we had the old law. In November of 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation allowing various fireworks to be sold during specified time periods. One of those periods is June 1st through July 5th, which was when New York Giants star defender Jason Pierre-Paul reportedly filled up a U-Haul with such items for a Fourth of July celebration that ended abruptly when one piece of festive ordnance detonated in his hand.

Mr. Pierre-Paul was severely burned and had to undergo surgery to amputate his right index finger. His thumb was reportedly broken as well. This came at a particularly bad time for JPP, who had no contract with the Giants. The team had tagged JPP as a franchise player, which came with a one-year guarantee of $14.8 million, and had offered him a long-term $60 million dollar contract, which the team quickly withdrew. What followed was weeks of gamesmanship, as JPP kept his distance from the Giants while insisting he’d be ready to go early in the season. Thus, according to Barry Petchesky at Deadspin, JPP managed to avoid the “preseason nonfootball injury list,” which would have allowed the team to retain JPP, but would have required him to miss six games without pay. JPP, who believes he’ll be ready to go in Week 5, may have salvaged two game paychecks at $930,000 a piece.

Still, the Giants star has suffered a significant injury and it’s likely he’ll lose substantial earnings as a direct result. The question we ask, as attorneys, is whether the victim here has any legal recourse. Specific details on how the injury came about have not been forthcoming, so we can’t speculate on these particulars. But in general, a person in JPP’s position would have to prove that someone else was responsible for his injuries. That could either be another person who handled the fireworks carelessly and caused his injury or the company that produced the fireworks.

Fireworks are inherently dangerous — they are literally designed to explode and spread flames. So, to assert a products liability case against the manufacturer, an injured party would have to show that the fireworks were unreasonably dangerous as fireworks. In other words, they were too dangerous to be handled safely by a reasonably prudent person. It’s possible, for example, that the fireworks had too short a fuse to allow a person to light the device and then step out of harm’s way. The device could have had too great a charge for one of its type. These are specific facts that require thorough investigation. Testing and retesting of the product in question is often required. Corroboration of the defect from other injured consumers is always helpful.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, in the month surrounding the Fourth of July, 230 people a day on average seek emergency room care for fireworks injuries. We hope your Fourth was a safe one.

If you have questions about an injury from a defective product, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to assist you. Call Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson. P.C. at 888.746.8212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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