TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey teenager who was severely injured by fireworks his friend bought in Pennsylvania is suing the store, the manufacturer and the friend who brought them across state lines illegally.
Thomas Eldershaw of Jackson was 19 when he said his friend persuaded him to light a fireworks display last year. The mortar misfired, sending a tennis ball-sized projectile into Eldershaw’s eye and face, causing serious, permanent damage.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in state Superior Court claims that Sky King Fireworks of Morrisville, Pa., broke the law by selling them to Eldershaw’s friend. And the friend, a New Jersey resident, was not allowed to bring them into the state.
“These stores are located in Pennsylvania but they are not allowed to sell fireworks to Pennsylvania residents,” attorney Steven Blader said. “Yet anyone with a Jersey driver’s license can walk in the door and buy thousands of dollars’ worth of extremely dangerous products. Because of this, Thomas Eldershaw’s young life was forever changed on the Fourth of July, and every year it’s the same sad story—on a national holiday that is supposed to be a celebration, New Jersey youth are senselessly maimed, even killed.”
An employee at Sky King’s Morrisville store referred inquiries to its corporate office in Florida, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
In 2006, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office sued Sky King for soliciting New Jersey residents despite that state’s laws making possession or use of fireworks illegal. Sky King signed a consent order containing several provisions intended to protect consumers, but Blader contends the company has violated the agreement.
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