The Price of Comfort

A 56 year old man, who has been suffering from a painful and mysterious skin condition for two years, has finally discovered the cause: his armchair.

Mr William Harrington bought the black leather reclining armchair on eBay for £80 and was delighted to have found such a bargain. But Mr Harrington soon began to suffer from painful sores and rashes all over his body.

“The leather made my skin go prickly and hot,” said Mr Harrington. “I couldn’t stop scratching, it was like someone had set me on fire. “

He had no idea that the armchair was part of a ‘toxic’ collection of furniture sold by Argos, World of Leather and 13 other companies.

In 2010, the companies were forced to recall the furniture and pay out £20 million between them in compensation to customers who had been affected.

Jonathan Flattery, Assistant Solicitor at Express Solicitors dealt with several clients in 2011 with similar cases who had suffered from respiratory problems as well as skin rashes, coughing, dizziness, stomach pains, vomiting and painful headaches after customers were given a spray to protect their sofas.

The armchairs from Argos and the other companies had been treated with an anti-fungal spray to stop the chairs from growing mould when they were placed in storage. The violent reactions and skin symptoms in many people were caused by a chemical called dimethyl fumarate and shops were forced to withdraw the armchair after people complained of allergic reactions.

The use of dimethyl fumarate has been banned in consumer products since 1998 in the European Union, and products containing dimethyl fumarate have been banned from being imported since January 2009.

Mr Harrington lived with his painful skin condition for 2 years, resulting in numerous visits to his GP, dozens of steroid creams and he even spent time taking anti-depressants.

“The last two years of my life have been absolutely horrific. I can’t put into words what I’ve been through because of this chair,” said the father of 5 from Cardiff.

After putting the chair in the garage, Mr Harrington has said his skin rash is slowly starting to disappear, but he is now calling for more to be done.

“Argos needs to get a warning out there; these toxic chairs are still out there and being sold to unsuspecting victims.”

When asked about the re-emergence of their ‘toxic armchair’, a spokesperson for Argos said: “As a responsible retailer we were extremely concerned to learn of the problems Mr Harrington has experienced with the chair he purchased second-hand 18 months ago and our priority is conducting an urgent investigation into this matter.”

Having dealt with cases very similar to this in the past, Jonathan Flattery and the rest of the Product Liability team here at Express Solicitors are urging anyone who may have been affected by a ‘toxic chair’ or dimethyl fumarate to contact them.

If you have suffered from similar symptoms to those mentioned here, then contact Express Solicitors on 0845 456 4007 today to discuss your compensation claim free of charge. 

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