Castle Rock couple claims Europtics gave away unsafe solar eclipse glasses, causing eye injuries

DENVER -- A Castle Rock couple has filed suit against Europtics, Inc., alleging the eyewear company handed out solar eclipse glasses that didn't meet stringent worldwide standards.

The plaintiffs, Kendall and Kim Heise, visited the Europtics store at 7301 S. Santa Fee Drive on August 20, to purchase a pair of eyeglasses.

As part of the sale, a store employee apparently handed the couple two pair of free eclipse glasses.

They used them to view the total solar eclipse from their home in Castle Rock.

The lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court, alleges that after using the eclipse glasses, Ms. Heise experienced blurred and distorted vision, discomfort and increased sensitivity to light.

Questions of Law

One of the questions raised by the lawsuit is whether the glasses distributed by the defendant were falsely labeled as certified to be compliant with ISO standard 12312-2 and therefore unsafe to view the August 2017 solar eclipse.

The plaintiffs and their attorney declined comment, but their complaint alleges negligence on the part of Europtics.

"By distributing the eclipse glasses to its customers, Europtics represented to its customers that the eclipse glasses were ISO standard 12312-2 compliant and safe to view the  2017 TSE, particularly given that Europtics is in the business of eyewear and eye health," the suit states.

Europtics response

In an emailed statement to Denver7, Europtics said it is in the process of investigating the allegations.

"It is noteworthy," the statement said, "that these allegations track, in some instances verbatim, the allegations made against Amazon in litigation recently commenced in the United States District Court of South Carolina."

Europtics denies liability saying it did not manufacture or sell the eclipse glasses.

"The glasses provided to customers were purchased by Europtics from Amazon, which is the subject of the class action lawsuit referenced above," the statement said.

South Carolina lawsuit

The federal suit filed in South Carolina alleges that Amazon knew or should have known that the eclipse glasses it sold were defective in design and/or manufacturing and were not fit for their intended and ordinary use.

"In fact, the Defendant Amazon attempted to recall its eclipse glasses on or about Agust 19, 'out of an abundance of caution,' via an email to its purchaser, offering a refund to affected customers but failing to disclose either the 'scale of the recall or a public list of offending vendors,'" the lawsuit states.

Claims for Relief

The Castle Rock couple is seeking an order classifying the lawsuit as class action, compensatory damages, injunctive relief to fund a medical monitoring program, court costs and interest.  

Analysis

Denver7 Legal Analyst Dan Recht said, "Europtics is in a difficult position, clearly."

Recht said there are world wide accepted standards, undisputed, about what the (lenses) should be like.

Recht said this is not a fly by night lawsuit.

"The plantiff's law firm is very experienced," he said.

Recht told Denver7 this lawsuit may be the tip of the iceberg.

"One of the most telling things is that Amazon actually issued a (recall) just days before the eclipse," he said.

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