MIAMI – Bacardi says its 151-proof rum was not the cause of burns suffered by three women who sued the spirits company and alleged that their injuries were caused when a bottle used to pour shots turned into a "flame thrower."
Bacardi, in a motion to dismiss the lawsuits, said their injuries sustained by the women were caused after a bartender poured rubbing alcohol on the bar of the "Secrets" adult club and ignited it as part of a promotion for flaming drinks in 2002.
Quoting from Miami-Dade County police and fire reports, the company said another drunken patron placed a paper menu in the fire and then "pulled it up in the air," causing the fire to spread and injure the women.
"Indeed, rubbing alcohol is the sole named source of the fire," Miami-based Bacardi USA Inc. said in the motion filed last week in federal court. "Bacardi had nothing to do with this misfortune."
Danielle Alleyne, Antonette Hernandez and Agata Macierzynska claimed in their lawsuits that Bacardi's 151-proof rum is inherently dangerous and defective because of vapors that are prone to ignite in a "flame thrower effect" and that a bottle cap used to guard against that possibility was too easy to remove.
The lawsuits contend that a flaming menu was stuck into a stream of 151 rum being poured into shot glasses, igniting the bottle and causing the injuries.
"This same defect in the bottle has been injuring people around the country for years and they have done nothing to make this bottle safe when they know of the dangers," Robert Dickman Jr., attorney for the women, said Monday. "Justice will have its day."
Bacardi, however, said the women are improperly seeking a financial "windfall" by suing the company after already receiving payouts from others blamed for their roles in the Aug. 8, 2002, incident.
"It was not Bacardi that staged a fire show at Secrets ... It was not Bacardi that poured rubbing alcohol on the bar and set it on fire," the company said in its motion.
Bacardi also said its 151 rum contains warning labels about its flammability — one says "Do not use this product for flaming dishes or drinks" — and features a "flame arrester" to prevent it from accidentally igniting.
The lawsuit and motions are pending before senior U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler, who has not issued a ruling on Bacardi's dismissal request.