Family of late Peterborough dentist suing ethanol lamp-maker for $12M
The family of Dr. Judith Buys, a Peterborough dentist who died from serious burns, is suing the manufacturer of an ethanol-fueled lamp for $12 million.
Buys, 55, died on Aug. 16, 2016, as a result of burn injuries sustained at a cottage in Burnt River, Ont., three days earlier. She operated the Cornerstone Family Dentistry clinic on Reid Street in Peterborough.
Her husband of 31 years, Dr. Jim McGorman, wants these lamps to be made safer.
“I don’t think we need to ban them. We need to make them safe,” said McGorman. “You don’t make cars without a brake. You don’t build a fireplace with flames that go around the room.”
According to a statement of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, on Aug. 13, 2016, Buys and family members were using a Brasa Fire Inc. ethanol lamp as a light source during a power outage.
The claim states when the flames began to fade, one of the hosts got the open refuelling container to pour more ethanol into the lamp but a “flash fire started” as she was pouring.
“Because there was no flame arrester installed on the open refuelling container, a flash fire started, causing flames and ethanol to jet out of the open refuelling container in the direction of Judith Buys,” the claim states.
“Every bottle of ethanol fuel, or combustible fuel that has a risk of flame jetting should have a flame arrester on it. It doesn’t cost much. It’s easy to do. It’s common sense,” added McGorman.
Buys was hit with the flames and ethanol which caused “burn injuries to most of her body,” the statement claims. She was first rushed to Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay but then airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto where she died of her injuries.
“This is a very easily preventable accident. What happened was a known phenomena, and this company didn’t take steps to prevent what happened from happening,” said John McLeish, McGorman’s lawyer.
CHEX News has made requests for comment to Brasa Fire but have not yet received a response.
Consumers can report unsafe products to Health Canada.
McLeish expects to serve Brasa in the next few months.
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