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Coleman Takes Heat Over Camping Deaths

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Coleman LogoI spend a good bit of time writing about faulty products, recalls, and the lawsuits that can result from them. It’s a chronic issue, and one that has once more reared its head due to allegations of wrongful death.

The families of a Colorado man and child have filed suit against Coleman, the popular maker of camping stoves and heaters, over what they claim is a case of wrongful death caused by Coleman products.

Josh Lofton, a writer for the Associated Press, summarizes (via The Republic):

Steven Dowdy, 28, of Clifton, Colo., and 10-year-old Darian Thomlinson, of Grand Junction, Colo., died in Cache County after warming up a tent with a Coleman PowerMate heater and a Coleman propane lantern, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed March 21 in federal court in Salt Lake City.

The pair did not realize the products released ‘deadly amounts of carbon monoxide’ because of insufficient warning labels, the lawsuit states.

Authorities say the Coleman heater was running in the tent when they found the two victims. This line of heaters has been blamed for literally dozens of deaths over the years, and has been the subject of numerous lawsuits.

Dennis Romboy, a writer for the Deseret News, notes that the families have brought in legal representation that has gone toe-to-toe with Coleman before:

In addition to retaining Provo-based Howard, Lewis & Peterson, the families hired Minnesota attorney Mark Stageberg, who has sued Coleman 15 times over radiant propane heaters, winning an $8 million verdict in one case.

Those 15 were only the cases that he took to court himself. According to Stageberg, the heaters accounted for over 90 deaths over the years. Romboy notes that he also takes Coleman to task for not taking steps that other companies have adopted in order to ensure user safety:

Defendant has known for many years that the propane radiant heaters of its competitors in the marketplace have a built-in safety shut device that extinguishes the heaters before they emit deadly levels of carbon monoxide. Defendant has known for many years that the propane heaters of its competitors have not resulted in dozens of carbon monoxide deaths and injuries like the Coleman heaters.

Image by Coleman, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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