Robins Kaplan Secures $7.75 Million Verdict in Aerosol Dust Remover Abuse Case

April 29, 2024

On Friday, April 26, Robins Kaplan LLP secured a landmark $7.75 million verdict against CRC Industries for its failure to prevent the foreseeable misuse of its aerosol dust remover products. This is the first dust remover case of its kind to go to trial.

The verdict follows the 2019 death of Cynthia McDougall, who was killed in a vehicle crash after an individual who huffed CRC Duster struck her car head-on. Products like CRC Duster, typically marketed as a dust and lint remover, are commonly abused to get “high.” When huffed, users experience significant impairment effects from the chemical used as a propellant. In Minnesota, product manufacturers have a duty to prevent foreseeable misuse of their products. This case highlighted the well-known abuse of aerosol dust remover products, like CRC Duster, and CRC Industries’ neglect to prevent such abuse.

Following the $7.75 million verdict on liability, a second phase of the trial was held on the issue of punitive damages. After seven hours of deliberation, the jury did not award punitive damages but attached a note to its verdict stating, “[a]fter much deliberation, we, as the jury, have agreed that we expect CRC to use this as an opportunity to be a leader in their industry and spearhead an effort to address inhalant abuse,” noting that “testimony and evidence shows that there is much more that could be done to combat the misuse of aerosol products, ESPECIALLY, Duster.” The jury closed with the following message: “Please do not confuse our decision not to award punitive damages with a lack of regard for the loss of Cindi McDougall. Our hearts go out to her husband, son, family and community.”

Robins Kaplan partner and co-lead attorney Philip Sieff said, “This verdict sends a clear message that manufacturers must take responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of their products' misuse. No family should endure the tragic loss suffered by Cynthia McDougall's loved ones, and we will continue to fight for accountability and safety in product manufacturing.”

“Robins Kaplan has remained a leading advocate for those harmed in air duster huffing incidents. We will continue to vigorously pursue accountability from dusting spray manufacturers and retailers for the devastating toll their products have inflicted nationwide,” added Robins Kaplan’s National Mass Tort Group Chair and co-lead attorney Tara Sutton.

The Robins Kaplan trial team also included attorneys Michael Reif, Rashanda Bruce, and Julie Reynolds.

Tara D. Sutton


Chair, National Mass Tort Group

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