Ex-Philly firefighter who suffered near-fatal smoke inhalation sues makers of protection mask

By Jon Campisi | Jul 1, 2013

A former Philadelphia firefighter has filed a products liability complaint against the

makers of a safety mask that he contends failed while in the midst of fighting a fire two years ago, an incident that led the plaintiff to develop a host of injuries, including near-fatal smoke inhalation.

Michael McGuire and his wife, Angelique, who reside in Northeast Philadelphia, are suing North Carolina-based Scott Technologies Inc., Princeton, N.J.-based Tyco International Inc., and Huntingdon Valley, Pa.-based Safeware Inc. over on-the-job injuries Michael McGuire allegedly sustained back on March 2, 2011.

According to the complaint, which was filed on June 18 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by attorneys with the Philadelphia injury firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, Michael McGuire was using his Scott AV-2000 respiratory protection mask while battling a city blaze when he became ill after the mask failed due to an improper seal.

The incident caused the plaintiff to lose oxygen and inhale carbon monoxide and other noxious gasses and chemicals, the suit alleges.

In addition to the near-fatal smoke inhalation, McGuire also suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, a severe lung smoke inhalation injury, hypoxemic respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, delirium, cardiomyopathy, post-intensive care syndrome, rhabdomyolosis, persistent muscle weakness, memory impairment, pneumonia, recurrent lung infections, residual lung disease, decreased respiratory function, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and other ills and injuries.

The couple claims they suffered economic damages, including wage losses due to Michael McGuire’s inability to work following the incident, and costs relating to medical care.

The defendant companies are accused of negligence for designing, manufacturing, selling, and distributing a defective product, failing to offer adequate warnings about the product, knowledge of prior accidents and injuries caused by the defective and malfunctioning product, and failing to provide adequate safety devices to go with the mask.

According to the complaint, Safeware workers performed repairs and technical services on McGuire’s Scott AV-2000 respiratory protection mask on Oct. 18, 2010, months prior to the device’s alleged failure.

The services included testing the mask for a proper seal.

In addition to the negligence claim against all three defendants, the lawsuit also contains counts of products liability, breach of warranty, and failure to warn.

There is also a loss of consortium count filed on behalf of Angelique McGuire, which claims the co-plaintiff has been deprived of her husband’s companionship, physical assistance and wage earnings because of his injuries.

The couple says they are seeking more than $50,000 in compensatory damages, in addition to interest and costs.

The complaint was filed by lawyers Daniel A. Schwarz, Larry Bendesky, Brian E. Fritz and William A. Weiss.

Just over a week after the complaint’s filing, defense attorneys petitioned the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to take jurisdiction over the case, arguing that the damages sought by the plaintiffs are likely to exceed the amount appropriate for state court.

The removal notice was filed on behalf of defendant Safeware Inc. by attorneys Patrick C. Lamb and Zachary R. Magid, of the Philadelphia firm Marks, O’Neill, O’Brien, Doherty & Kelly P.C.

Safeware’s lawyers also maintain jurisdiction is proper in federal court because despite the plaintiffs’ assertion that the company is based in Pennsylvania, it was actually incorporated in the state of Maryland.

“Safeware, Inc. does not have its principal place of business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” the removal notice states.


The state case ID number is 130203297 and the federal case number is 2:13-cv-03746-RB. 

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