Woman sues Penneys over dress that 'melted and ignited'
A WOMAN is suing a major retailer after she claimed she suffered severe burns as a child when her dress caught alight as she stood near an open fire.
The now 25-year-old woman was just 11 when the new dress allegedly caught fire in her grandparents' home.
Now, 14 years later, she has brought a High Court claim against Primark, which traded as 'Penneys', where the garment was originally bought.
Simone Burke of Fairgreen Court, Dargle Road, Bray, Co Wicklow, claims she suffered burns to more than 20pc of her body, requiring a number of skin grafts.
Penneys denies the claim. It says she exposed herself to a risk of injury and failed to take care for her own safety by standing directly beside a lit fire, which she knew or ought to have known was unsafe. It is claimed Ms Burke's mother bought the dress for her in the Mary's Street, Dublin, branch on May 15, 1996.
It was allegedly made from lightweight viscose featuring areas of thin loose weave and had a low temperature flammability, susceptible to melting and possible production of burning droplets.
The incident occurred two days later while Ms Burke was visiting her grandparents home at Seacrest Bray.
She had the garment pulled against the back of her legs and was holding it out in front showing the dress to her sister, Michelle, when suddenly, the dress melted and ignited, it is also claimed.
Ms Burke told the court said she was standing with her back to the fireplace, the spark guard was in place and the fire was turned down."It sounded like putting chips into a deep fat fryer when I was put into the bath," she said.
Under cross-examination, Ms Burke said she was probably three feet from the fire and she was not touching anything as far as she could recall. "It wasn't touching the fire," she said.
Ms Burke was in hospital for more than a month, during which time she underwent skin grafting procedures in addition to treatment for burns. She subsequently suffered severe psychological distress, the court heard.
The company claims Ms Burke stood directly beside a fire which was neither protected nor guarded and caused herself to suffer injury.
The hearing continues.