A settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit that blamed a company’s instant noodle-soup cups for second-degree burns on the daughter of a Forsyth County woman.
According to online court records, attorneys for the woman and the company notified the court system on April 19 that they had reached a settlement.
Kimberly Buffkin filed a lawsuit in November 2013 in Forsyth Superior Court against Maruchan Inc. and its Tokyo-based parent company, Toyo Suisan Kaisha. The lawsuit alleged that Maruchan’s instant noodle-soup cups had a design defect that caused the cups to tip over.
The lawsuit was transferred in January 2014 to U.S. District Court of the Middle District of North Carolina, which covers Forsyth.
Leslie Lasher, an attorney for Maruchan, said Wednesday that the settlement is confidential and that she could not provide any further comment. Robert Pavich, one of Buffkin’s attorneys, did not return a message Wednesday seeking comment.
In the lawsuit, Buffkin said she had bought a Maruchan Instant Lunch on May 27, 2011. Her daughter, referred to as OP, was about a year old when her father, Jason A. Powell prepared the noodles. The lawsuit said he did so by boiling water and pouring it in the cup. But attorneys for Maruchan said in motion filed April 12 that Powell actually placed the Instant Lunch in the microwave. The company said instructions on the Instant Lunch clearly said the product is not to be cooked in the microwave.
Buffkin said in her lawsuit that OP’s 1-year-old nephew tipped over the Instant Lunch, which had been cooling on the kitchen counter. The hot soup spilled onto OP, resulting in second-degree burns to her groin area, chest, shoulder and back. Buffkin said in her lawsuit that her daughter, who is now 6, would have to undergo numerous surgeries, including reconstructive surgery.
The lawsuit said that “numerous studies” since 2006 have looked at the burn risks of instant soup products and cites one study claiming Maruchan Instant Lunch was among the most prone to tip. The company, however, said the study cited is a news report. That news report, from National Public Radio, had a link to an abstract of the study.
In the company’s motion filed April 12, attorneys for Maruchan said a judge should rule in its favor without going to trial for a number of reasons. One is that Buffkin had not provided any evidence that the cup was defective and prone to tipping, the company said. The company also said that Buffkin and Powell failed to properly supervise OP and her nephew, and that Powell failed to follow the instructions in preparing the Instant Lunch.
Buffkin had unsuccessfully tried to add Powell as a defendant to the complaint, but U.S. District Judge William Osteen denied that request last year.
The lawsuit sought at least $10,000 in damages.
The attorneys have until May 19 to file a stipulation of dismissal notice.