Metal halide light bulb “cooks” nuts


A Georgia company was in the business of packaging and selling nuts. They had a refrigerated warehouse on site at their plant and one night, the fire alarm activated. The fire department found a small fire in the warehouse directly under a light fixture. The sprinkler system had activated and contained the fire to a small area. The light fixture over the fire was missing its plastic cover and the bulb had apparently exploded sending hot glass below. The top half of the bulb was still in the fixture, but the bottom half was scattered in the debris. The fire department assumed that the light fixture had something to do with the fire but could not figure out exactly what had happened. Smoke and water from the fire and the sprinkler system contaminated the food product in the warehouse.

Stutman Law determined that the light was a metal halide light fixture. Metal halide light bulbs can explode in what is known as “end of life failures.” The light fixture cover is intended to catch and contain the hot pieces of glass to prevent a fire. There is a U.L. standard that governs the design of the cover, or “lamp containment barrier”. That standard was changed, because the plastic cover, or “lamp containment barriers”, like the one used on the fixture in this case, had a tendency to catch fire in the event of a bulb explosion. The defendant initially alleged that their product met the new standard, but Stutman Law’s litigation team proved they were wrong by conducting tests of an exemplar light obtained at the scene. The loss was in excess of $3,500,000 and Stutman Law negotiated a significant, confidential seven-figure settlement.

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