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Product liability suit claims noodle cup defect caused burns

You've probably heard the expression "You get what you pay for." So, does that mean when you buy something at a Chicago store that a product can be dangerous because it's inexpensive? If you burn your hand on a kitchen stove, the injury is no less painful because of the appliance's value.

Ask any Illinois college student – meals that only require the addition of hot water are cost-effective. A new lawsuit claims Maruchan Inc.'s ramen noodles are cheap and easy to prepare, but the container is defective.

A federal court is considering a mother's claim that her child suffered second-degree burns in 2011 from a faulty Maruchan soup cup. The 1-year-old girl was standing near a counter where the boiling cup of noodles was cooling, when the girl's same-age cousin tipped over the container.

The hot water spilled across the counter and onto the girl's back, chest, shoulders and lower body. The lawsuit said the injured toddler required skin grafts and surgery. Her mother said reconstructive surgeries are planned for the future.

The complaint alleges Maruchan and its Japanese parent company designed a hazardous Styrofoam container. In addition, the lawsuit claimed the noodle cup's label did not warn about tipping or spilling dangers.

The food company countered with a denial of all allegations and a request to have the lawsuit dismissed. Maruchan officials stated the container was not defective and the warning label to use care "while serving children" was sufficient.

The defendants' attorneys also blamed the girl's father, who made the noodles, for the child's injury. The company said the father should have properly supervised his nephew and daughter and placed the hot soup product out of reach.

Product liability claims may request damages for product design defects, including flaws in packaging. Plaintiffs must prove an injury was the result of the defect and connect the injury to a compensable loss.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, "Forsyth woman sues over spilled soup that burned toddler" Michael Hewlett, Jan. 17, 2014

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