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Fireworks law loophole at issue in NJ personal injury lawsuit

The purchase and use of fireworks is illegal in New Jersey and border state Pennsylvania. However, the explosives are a large part of the Fourth of July celebrations of people in both states. This is partially because of an ambiguity in Pennsylvania law that allows fireworks to be sold in the state if the buyer immediately takes them across the Pennsylvania border and into a neighboring state.

This loophole has prompted many fireworks retailers to set up makeshift stores on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border where buyers with a New Jersey driver's license can purchase as many fireworks as they want (fireworks are illegal in New Jersey, but the law against them is not often enforced). For many, this ability simply adds fun to a national holiday. But the potential harm and personal injury inherent in fireworks is something that many do not consider when buying and using the explosives.

A New Jersey man learned this lesson the hard way after a malfunctioning firework left him partially blind. Now, the man has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Pennsylvania store that sold him the fireworks, the manufacturer, and the New Jersey man that went to the neighboring state to purchase the fireworks.

According to court documents, the man was helping a friend set off fireworks at a Fourth of July party last year. Suddenly, an aerial shell misfired, sending a large chunk of debris toward the man's face. He was left with a burned face and a complete loss of sight in his left eye.

In his lawsuit, the man alleges that the fireworks retailer violated an agreement that was the product of a similar product liability lawsuit in 1996. He claims that the store sold fireworks to his friend, a New Jersey resident, "without clearly or conspicuously disclosing their illegality."

The man is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Source: The Times of Trenton, "N.J. teen sues Pennsylvania fireworks outlet after being partially blinded", Erin Duffy, 31 March 2011

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