New Jersey

Woman Badly Burned by Exploding Table Torch Files Lawsuit

An Atlantic County woman who was badly injured when a table torch in her backyard suddenly exploded is filing a lawsuit against the retailer of the product.  

The incident happened in May of 2013. Mari Linn Lacovara of Egg Harbor Township told NBC10 she was trying to blow out her citronella torch when it suddenly burst into flames. 

“I turned and it just went ‘boom,’” Lacovara said. “And I caught on fire.”

The blast left the 53-year-old mother and casino executive with second and third degree burns on her face, neck and right hand.

“Skin was everywhere and I was just in shock,” she said.

Lacovara and her husband Andrew, a retired firefighter, bought the torch at a Big Lots store in Somers Point, New Jersey. The couple filed a federal lawsuit against the retailer, claiming the product’s label did not provide information regarding how the product should be extinguished. The couple’s attorney says the torches were made for Big Lots in India and also tested there. 

“They should have instructions,” Lacovara said. “There should have been something with it.” 

A Texas mother also said her son died after a similar torch exploded. Big Lots issued a recall for the torches nearly three months after Lacovara was burned. Her attorney Paul D’Amato is still trying to figure out how many of the products were actually returned however. 

“These table torches are sleeping time bombs,” he said. “We are here today to make sure that nobody else gets hurt.”

NBC10’s Ted Greenberg reached out to Big Lots but was told by a spokeswoman that the company does not comment on pending litigation. In a filed response to the lawsuit however, Big Lots insists it was not at fault and that Lacovara’s “damages” were caused by her own “negligent conduct.”

Lacovara has undergone several surgeries since the incident and expects to have more. 

“I hope that will never happen to anybody else,” she said. “I won’t even blow out a birthday candle now. I just can’t do it.” 

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