3 settle injury lawsuits over Martha Stewart chair

Associated Press
FILE - In this April 26, 2011, file photo Martha Stewart attends the Time 100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, in New York. Des Moines attorney Guy Cook said Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, that a settlement was reached in lawsuits filed by three people against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Kmart Corp. who had parts of fingers snipped of by Martha Stewart lounge chairs sold at Kmart stores. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)
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FILE - In this April 26, 2011, file photo Martha Stewart attends the Time 100 Gala, celebrating the 100 …

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Three people whose fingers were snipped off or injured by Martha Stewart patio chairs have won settlements against her company and Kmart, which sold the furniture, their attorney said Thursday.

Des Moines attorney Guy Cook declined to say how much the three — a young girl in Kentucky, a college student in Illinois and a retiree in upstate New York — were awarded at the settlement conference in Chicago on Monday.

Their lawsuits claimed that the lounge chairs' legs are defective and snap forward, "serving as a guillotine" for fingers and hands caught between the legs and the chair.

The chairs were designed and branded by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and sold as part of patio furniture sets at Kmart stores. Cook first sued the two companies in 2008 on behalf of a magician and hand model who lost the tip of his finger to one of the chairs in Des Moines. That case was settled in early 2009.

The dollar amounts awarded this week must remain confidential under the terms of the settlements, "but I can tell you that all of my clients are satisfied with the settlement in spite of the injuries they suffered," Cook said.

The settlements were reached with Sandy Caffoe of Jamestown, N.Y., a 67-year-old who lost the function of her right hand when two fingers were amputated in 2008; college student Lisa Peterson, 22, of Des Plaines, Ill. who had her right ring finger amputated in 2009; and Kaitlyn Damron of Pikeville, Ky., who was four in 2006 when the tip of her left pinky finger was severed.

Cook said Kmart continued to sell the chairs after he filed the original 2008 lawsuit but that they were later redesigned to add another bolt to the legs, preventing the snapping motion. He said he is investigating and pursuing other possible claims related to injuries from the chairs.

Stewart denied anyone was injured by the chairs when a New York television reporter, Arnold Diaz, confronted her in 2009. Cook said he played video of that encounter during this week's settlement conference, which was overseen by a retired Cook County judge.

Katherine Nash, a spokeswoman for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Kmart spokesman Chris Braithwaite declined to comment Thursday.

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Associated Press writer Ryan J. Foley in Iowa City contributed to this story.

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