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Can a Bra Cause a $75,000 Skin Discoloration?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 28, 2011 8:52 AM

Listen up, Ladies. Bra shopping may have just gotten a bit worse. When you pick out a bra, skin discoloration (aside from those pesky stretch marks) is the last thing on your mind. That might just have to change.

A South Carolina woman has filed a products liability lawsuit against Hanes and Walmart alleging that her $10 bra caused $75,000 worth of skin discoloration.

Cherrill Bennett, the woman behind the bra lawsuit, bought a black Hanes bra from Walmart three years ago, reports The Post and Courier. Later that day, when she removed the bra, skin discoloration marred her shoulders. Her lawyer further told the paper that the bra's ink had bled out, and still leaves visible marks today.

The bra lawsuit alleges that the defendants should have known what would happen when skin came in contact with the dye used to color the bra: skin discoloration that couldn't be washed away with a bar of soap. On this basis, the plaintiff alleges that Hanes and Walmart were negligent, failed to properly warn her, breached their warranty, and are strictly liable for the damage caused to her skin.

Negligence is a common products liability claim, but what is strict liability?

One of the ways in which a plaintiff can prove that a defendant is liable for harm caused by its product is through meeting the requirements of a strict liability claim. If the product was defective, the plaintiff is liable. No need to prove fault.

There are three ways to show that a product is defective. First, a plaintiff can show that there was a manufacturing defect. Second, a plaintiff can show that the product was defective in that it didn't have the proper warnings. And thirdly, a plaintiff can point to a design defect.

Design defect is what is being alleged in the bra lawsuit. To demonstrate that the design of a product is defective, a plaintiff needs to prove that the product posed an unreasonable risk that could have been reduced or avoided without imposing a significant burden on the manufacturer.

Cherrill Bennett is alleging that the dye was unreasonably dangerous, a hazard to the bra's user, and that utilizing a different dye would have been a fairly easy fix. Whether she prevails on this claim is yet to be known. But, in the meantime, it might be wise to triple wash your new bras before you wear them.

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