Boy Suing Fireworks Store After Injury

For several months, 13-year-old Joel Surette purchased Mighty Poppers and caps used in cap guns from Dee's Corner Convenience Store in Swamscott, Massachusetts. Joel eventually emptied the powder from 100 of the caps and the powder from the poppers and combined them in a tube made of cardboard. He closed the tube off with duct tape and then set off an explosion that resulted in the loss of two of his fingertips, requiring treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital.

His father filed suit against Dees Store, as well as New York fireworks distributor, Panaria International. The suit alleges that the store did not exercise reasonable care in selling the Class C fireworks to Joel, and that the clerk intentionally told Joel the caps contained more explosive material than found in other caps. The clerk also told the boy the fireworks were illegal in Massachusetts in order to make them seem attractive to the boy and entice him to buy them, the suit alleges.

The injured party also maintains that Panaria improperly labeled the fireworks by failing to state that they were illegal in Massachusetts. Panaria, which is located in New York, responded that Mighty Poppers are no longer being sold, but they were legal to sell in New York and insisted they would not sell something illegal.

The suit alleges that the store "should have known Joel might combine the illegal Class C fireworks into more explosive items which could result in grievous harm or injury to him or others.".

The injured party asserts that due to the store's breach of duty and Panaria's failure to include a proper warning label on the fireworks, Joel Surette suffered extreme, permanent disfigurement and emotional distress.

By filing the lawsuit, the Surettes hope to get compensation for Joel's medical expenses, including the hospital and therapy expenses, as well as Joel's future hospital and medical expenses. While a total of approximately $170,000 is listed in the lawsuit, Joel's attorney has requested that a jury determine the appropriate and fair amount of compensation.