Firefighter files $600K suit against SCBA manufacturer

He said it exploded after a malfunction, causing hearing loss, debilitating headaches and a loss of balance

EUGENE, Ore. — A firefighter filed a $600,000 lawsuit against the maker and seller of a city-purchased air mask that allegedly broke during a training exercise and caused him a serious ear injury.

The Register-Guard reported that David Pickett, 35, claims in the suit filed Wednesday that he and other firefighters were testing recently purchased MSA Firehawk M7 air masks when the accident happened on Dec. 19, 2012.

The suit claims that Pickett had placed the mask on his head and was pressurizing the system when an air line running between an air tank and the mask "became violently detached  ...  resulting in an explosion next to (his) right ear."

As a result of the device’s failure, Pickett suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, debilitating headaches and a loss of balance, according to the suit.

He now wears a hearing aid in his right ear, the lawsuit asserts.

Pickett claims that the mask's air line was not designed or manufactured to allow it to withstand the air pressure required for the unit's proper use, according to the report.

Pickett’s attorney, Jeffrey Wing of Eugene, said his client still works as a firefighter.

Pickett is seeking $72,328 to cover wages that he claims to have lost and expects to lose in the future as a result of his injury; $6,500 to repay his medical expenses; $18,000 to pay for the hearing aids that he expects to need over the course of his life; and up to $500,000 in compensation for pain and suffering.

A spokesman for MSA declined comment on Pickett’s allegations.

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