Page last updated at 17:13 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 18:13 UK

'Sofa burns victim' gets payout

A 68-year-old man has received a four-figure compensation sum after his sofa left him with severe chemical burns, his lawyers said.

Maurice Heminsley won the money after his sofa from Furniture Warehouse in Dudley caused him to be admitted to hospital, law firm Irwin Mitchell said.

A spokesman said Mr Heminsley, of Willenhall, West Midlands, developed a rash within days of getting the sofa.

Furniture Warehouse, an independent store, declined to comment.

The law firm said the action could pave the way for more legal action claims.

Furniture chemical

Earlier this year, the BBC found that more than 1,600 people nationally claimed to have been affected by sofas from several furniture companies.

The problem is thought by some experts to be caused by an anti-mould chemical used in the furniture called dimethyl fumarate.

The chemical, which was banned by the European Commission in May, was found in sachets put into thousands of sofas that had been imported from China.

Mr Heminsley's solicitors said the widower's £1,100 sofa, which he received in November 2007, initially gave him a rash.

It spread across his neck, back and legs and over three months developed into open sores, and he was admitted to hospital with acute dermatitis.

Mr Heminsley's sister Joyce Barham said her brother's injuries had been horrific.

She said: "He was in a terrible state. He had been suffering for more than a week before he finally confided in us that he had a painful rash."

Mr Heminsley said: "The settlement means I can now put this really painful episode in the past and move on with my life. However, I'm annoyed that more wasn't done to protect consumers."

A spokesman for Irwin Mitchell said Mr Heminsley received a full refund from the store and that the furniture company did not contest the case.

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