Suit Alleges "Harmful and Dangerous" Bra Caused Plaintiff’s Permanent Skin Discoloration

Our beautiful home state of South Carolina is no stranger to unusual lawsuits. See here, for example, for coverage of one of our inmate’s “$63,000,000,000 billion dollar” lawsuit against Michael Vick. But there are other unique suits. A South Carolina product liability lawsuit filed in late January, though far from the level of absurdity of the Vick suit, arguably qualifies as odd.

Charleston’s The Post and Courier reports that a Berkeley County woman has filed suit, just shy of the three-year statute of limitations, against Hanes Corporation and Wal-Mart Stores, in which she alleges that a black bra she purchased at her local Wal-Mart permanently discolored her skin. The story has generated some considerable discussion among South Carolinians, who have posted many, many comments to the article. The “odd product performance” complaint sets forth negligence, breach of warranty, strict liability, and failure to warn causes of action, and alleges that the plaintiff “could not appreciate the danger the Hanes bra posed to her.”

According to the complaint, the plaintiff bought the black Hanes bra at Wal-Mart, wore it, and noticed a dark discoloration of the skin on her shoulders tracing exactly where the straps had been. Her local attorney, Jarrell Wigger, apparently granted an interview to The Post and Courier after filing the claim. He told the newspaper that the dyes used in the Hanes bra were defective, allowing them to “bleed out,” leaving his client with “skin discoloration [that] is permanent and persists to date.” He described the skin discoloration as “burnt” or dark in color.

We will continue to monitor the case for any interesting developments. For us, it’s the “permanent” part that doesn’t seem to make sense. Sure, it’s foreseeable that a new pair of unwashed dark jeans or unwashed bathing suit might “bleed out” onto a wearer’s skin, but to be absorbed by the skin permanently just seems unlikely. Then again, if this plaintiff still has the markings more than three years after her first wear, maybe her situation is, indeed, unique.

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