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LILLIAN HOFFMAN v. LOOS & DILWORTH (10/15/82)

filed: October 15, 1982.

LILLIAN HOFFMAN, IND. AND AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF JULES HOFFMAN AND ROBERT HOFFMAN AND STEVEN HOFFMAN AND RICHARD HOFFMAN
v.
LOOS & DILWORTH, INC., PLYMOUTH HARDWARE AND HOME DECORATING CENTER, INC., AMERICAN OLEAN TILE COMPANY, HARDWARE SUPPLY COMPANY, GARDNER BROTHERS, INC., HONEYMEAD PRODUCTS COMPANY, C.J. OSBORN CHEMICALS, E.W. KAUFMANN COMPANY, JOSEPH J. ZUMMO HARDWARE COMPANY, AMERICAN HARDWARE SUPPLY COMPANY, PARKS CORPORATION, NELSON SUPPLY COMPANY, AND WEBB-CRAFT TILE COMPANY. APPEAL OF HONEYMEAD PRODUCTS, INC. APPEAL OF LOOS & DILWORTH, INC.



No. 1089 Philadelphia, 1981, No. 1320 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Action-Law, of Montgomery County at No. 76-19085.

COUNSEL

William H. Bradbury, Norristown, for appellants.

Charles W. Craven, Philadelphia, for appellees.

Wickersham, Brosky and Wieand, JJ.

Author: Wickersham

[ 307 Pa. Super. Page 133]

Lillian Hoffman, individually and as the administratrix of the estate of Jules L. Hoffman, deceased, filed a complaint in trespass against Loos & Dilworth, Inc., Plymouth Hardware & Home Decorating Center, Inc., and American Olean Tile Company, Inc., in November of 1976 alleging, inter alia, on behalf of herself and certain of her children that a fire occurred on November 24, 1975 in her home at Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. As a result of the fire Jules L. Hoffman sustained multiple traumatic injuries resulting in his death and Lillian Hoffman and co-plaintiffs Robert Hoffman, Steven Hoffman and Richard Hoffman also "suffered severe injuries." It was further alleged that the fire resulted from the ignition of combustible materials

     which materials had been in contact with the contents of a container of Superior Brand Boiled Linseed Oil, which product was packaged and distributed by defendant Loos & Dilworth, Inc., sold to plaintiff's decedent by defendant Plymouth Hardware & Home Decorating Center, Inc. and recommended for use to plaintiff's decedent by defendant American Olean Tile Company, Inc.

Reproduced Record at 7a.

The facts underlying this appeal are concisely set forth in the opinion, dated August 25, 1981, of the Honorable Richard S. Lowe, President Judge of Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

This action arises out of a tragic fire which occurred at plaintiffs' home on November 24, 1975. Jules L. Hoffman, plaintiff Lillian Hoffman's husband, died in the blaze. Several other members of the Hoffman family sustained serious injuries while jumping from a second floor window in an attempt to escape the conflagration.

In their Complaint, plaintiffs allege that the fire was caused by the spontaneous combustion of rags which had been used by Jules Hoffman on the night before the fire to apply Superior Brand boiled linseed oil to the kitchen floor of the Hoffman home. They further aver that the

[ 307 Pa. Super. Page 134]

    product was defective in that it was sold without adequate warning of the possibility of spontaneous combustion.

The record reveals that Superior Brand linseed oil reaches the ultimate consumer through the following chain of distribution. The raw linseed oil is originally manufactured by Honeymead Products Company and transported, in bulk, for storage by C.J. Osborn Company, an eastern distributor. E.W. Kaufmann Company, acting as a sales agent for Honeymead, receives an order for the product from Loos & Dilworth, Inc., and transmits that order to Osborn. Osborn then converts the product, by the addition of a chemical, from raw linseed oil to boiled linseed oil. Thereafter Osborn delivers the boiled linseed oil, in bulk, to Loos & Dilworth, Inc. After receiving the oil from Osborn, Loos & Dilworth, Inc. packages it in individual containers and affixes thereto the Superior Brand label. The oil is then sold to the consumer by a retail supplier.

The original Complaint in Trespass was filed by the plaintiffs against Loos & Dilworth, Inc. on November 23, 1976. On April 28, 1977 Loos & Dilworth, Inc. filed a Complaint seeking contribution and indemnity against additional defendants Honeymead Products Company, C.J. Osborn Chemicals Company, and E.W. Kaufmann Company. On February 12, 1981 E.W. Kaufmann filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which Motion was granted, after argument and upon consideration of the briefs of counsel, by Order dated April 16, 1981. Loos & Dilworth, Inc. and Honeymead have appealed to The Superior Court of Pennsylvania from the aforesaid Order, thereby necessitating this Opinion.

Lower ct. op. at 1-2.

In its complaint against additional defendant, E.W. Kaufmann Company, defendant Loos & Dilworth, Inc. alleged the following, inter alia:

1. The defendant, Loos & Dilworth is a corporation having a place of business at 61 East Green Lane, Bristol, Pennsylvania, and ...


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