A Texas woman has sued Victoria’s Secret in federal court, alleging that she suffered third-degree burns after one of its hoodies touched a stovetop burner and burst into flames. Samantha Burke says in her lawsuit that, on November 21, 2016, she was heating up some soup on her gas stove while wearing a hoodie from the company’s PINK apparel line. While moving the soup from the burner to the countertop, she states that she smelled something burning and realized that the drawstring on her Victoria’s Secret PINK hoodie had caught fire. As she set the soup on her kitchen counter, she saw flames on the right side of her body. Hearing her scream, Burke’s husband yelled at her to drop to the floor and roll. She did so, but the flames did not go out immediately. Instead, she and her husband put the fire out with their bare hands.
Doctors who treated Burke after the accident diagnosed her with third-degree burns and put skin grafts on them before placing her in an airplane splint, a device that fixes the patient’s arm at shoulder level to aid in the healing process. Burke states that she spent several weeks in the splint, which forced her into a posture that made her body ache, and pain medication provided her little relief. Even sleep provided no relief, she claims, as she had recurring nightmares of being trapped in a fire in her home. The problems persisted even after she thought she had improved enough to return to work. Burke claims that, while she was giving a presentation in a light sweater at work one day, the seater irritated her skin so badly that her skin began to bleed. Alarmed by this development, she returned to her doctor, who informed her that her burns had reached “maximum improvement,” meaning that she will be stuck with scarred skin that cannot be exposed to heat or sunlight for the rest of her life.
In her complaint, Burke is claiming damages based on theories of products liability, gross negligence, negligent design, and failure to warn. She also wants Victoria’s Secret to pay her hospital bills. This is not the first time that Victoria’s Secret has found itself in legal trouble over flaming garments. The company has been sued 19 times since 2004, including four class actions, by women alleging products liability and claiming they were either burned when a candle caught their lingerie on fire, they suffered allergic reactions to lingerie, or bras injured them and left scars.