Senior Associate Jade Cameron wins Summary Judgment

In Watts-Gilead v. Hercules Chemical Co., et al. (Bronx County Index No. 350663/08), Judge Julia Rodriguez granted summary judgment in June 2016 in favor of our client Hercules Chemical Co., a manufacturer of a sulfuric drain opener named Clobber. The infant Plaintiff allegedly sustained severe chemical burns when the chemical product came into contact with her skin. It was alleged that the drain opener came into the possession of the infant plaintiff’s mother through the landlord of her building. The infant plaintiff’s mother left the bottle of Clobber on a shelf in her bathroom. Within moments of doing so, the infant plaintiff somehow spilled the contents of the bottle onto her face and upper body suffering chemical burns.

Hercules had a distribution agreement with co-defendant distributor Oatey Supply Chain Services, Inc. Oatey, in turn, had an exclusive distribution agreement with co-defendant distributor Durst Corporation. Durst sold the product to Canje Discount (a local Bronx hardware and variety store). Plaintiffs’ landlord, co-defendant Michael Smith, purchased the Clobber from Canje Discount.

As part of its safety policy, Hercules included a Seller’s Notice within all shipments of Clobber. It also included clear and conspicuous warnings on each bottle of Clobber and even went as far as to require distributor Durst to sign an agreement acknowledging that it understood the dangerous nature of Clobber and that Clobber’s intended users were solely "professionals".

The only party that asserted a claim against Hercules was Durst. Judge Rodriguez concluded that summary judgment was warranted in favor of Hercules as there was no allegation that the Clobber was inadequately or negligently designed, manufactured, packaged or labeled, and Durst’s own judicial admissions as well as Durst’s own expert supported the conclusion that the Clobber was not defective and that its distribution and sale was proper and exceeded industry standards.