Skinny's, BIC Sued Over Lighter Incident

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Skinny's, BIC Sued Over Lighter Incident

WACO, Texas -- Skinny's Inc., recently acquired by Alon USA, along with BIC USA are being sued by a Waco woman, who claims that a BIC lighter she bought at the local Skinny's store exploded and injured her and her daughter, Ariana.

Tamara Alfred of Waco filed the suit in the 19th State District Court in Waco, alleging that the product in question "was defective and unsafe," and that the incident on July 21, 2005, inflicted second- and third-degree burns on Ariana, who was 3 at the time and was being held by her mother, the Waco Tribune reported.

The lawsuit states that after Alfred used the lighter to light candles in her living room, she placed it on a coffee table. The lighter "made a strange hissing sound," according to the lawsuit, before exploding and spewing hot plastic on the mother and child.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for medical expenses, mental anguish and the cost of medical monitoring in the future. It names the Abilene, Texas-based Skinny's convenience store chain as a defendant, saying that the lighter was unsafe when it left the control of Skinny's store No. 117 in Waco.

Neither BIC USA, nor Skinny's, has filed a formal response yet to the legal action. BIC spokeswoman Jill Klimack released a statement to the Waco Tribune saying, "BIC is not aware that this lawsuit has been filed; however, it is our policy not to provide comment on pending litigation."

On its Web site, BIC says it has sold more than 15 billion lighters in more than 160 countries since it began producing lighters 30 years ago. It also says its lighters meet or exceed safety standards implemented by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A message left at Skinny's headquarters was not returned.

Earlier this month, Dallas-based Alon USA Energy announced it had closed a $70 million deal to purchase Skinny's Inc. and its 102 convenience stores, including 18 in the Waco area. Those stores will become 7-Eleven locations in the coming months since Alon is the largest 7-Eleven licensee in the United States, the newspaper reported.

Alon spokesman Blake Lewis said, "We just closed this transaction at the end of June, so we're still integrating all aspects of the two companies, including matters like this."