Generator manufacturer, Costco Wholesale Corp. sued over fire that destroyed home and caused facial burns

By Jon Campisi | Jun 21, 2013

A husband and wife from Philadelphia are suing the out-of-state makers of a generator

that the plaintiffs contend ignited a fire that destroyed their property, and caused the woman to sustain severe burns to her face.

Attorney Christopher J. Culleton, of the firm Swartz Culleton PC, filed a civil action June 19 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on behalf of Eugene and Latinia Dykes.

The defendants named in the complaint are California-based Champion Power Equipment Inc. and Washington State-based Costco Wholesale Corp.

In the lawsuit, Eugene Dykes claims that while performing construction repairs and renovations to the couple’s property on the 1700 block of South 19th Street back on Nov. 14, 2011, the gasoline powered device he was using to generate electricity at the premises ignited a blaze that destroyed the home, and led to Latinia Dykes sustaining serious physical injuries including second-degree facial burns, smoke inhalation, contusions and a shock to her nervous system.

The product was made by Champion Power Equipment and it was purchased by the plaintiffs at a local Costco store.

The complaint accuses the defendants of manufacturing and selling a defectively designed product that was considered a fire hazard.

Prior to the plaintiffs’ accident, the complaint alleges, the defendants knew the power generator in question was hazardous and defective and prone to causing fires.

The suit further alleges that the companies delayed recalling the power generator after learning of its propensity to ignite blazes.

Champion Power Equipment is accused of negligence for failing to warn the plaintiffs of the risk of fire injury associated with the generator and supplying the device without adequate labeling and warnings.

The suit contains additional counts of negligence against Costco, in addition to counts of strict liability, breach of warranty and negligence against both named defendants.

In addition to the property damage, the plaintiffs claim that Latinia Dykes has undergone great physical pain and suffering relating to her injuries, and the couple claims they have been on the hook for medical expenses relating to the woman’s treatment.

Latinia Dykes also says she experienced earnings losses due to her inability to work during the period where she was recovering from her injuries.

The female plaintiff claims she has additionally suffered serious and/or permanent loss of use of a bodily function, dismemberment, and/or scarring as a result of the ordeal.

“As a further result of the aforesaid accident, plaintiff Latinia Dykes has suffered great and unremitting physical pain, suffering and mental anguish all of which may continue in the future,” the complaint reads.

The couple seeks more than $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as additional court relief.

A jury trial is being sought.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-03471-JD.

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