This is a case that should make it into the law school texts, if for no reason other than it very clearly illustrates the interplay between the separate doctrines of negligence and proximate cause, and how one without the other is - and was - fatal to a plaintiff's defective products lawsuit.

Recently, in Luftman v. Fashion 21, Inc., a New York County jury held that a woman was not entitled to recover damages for the second and third-degree burns she sustained when her skirt became engulfed in flame almost instantaneously after a lit cigarette came in contact with the base of the skirt. Although the jury agreed that the defendant was negligent in failing to test the skirt for adequacy of flammability before selling it, the jury also held that the defendant was not liable to the plaintiff because the defendant's failure, or negligence, in this regard was not a proximate cause, i.e., a substantial factor, in causing the plaintiff's injuries.

This case is just one more reason why there are so few successful defective products lawsuits.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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