Sheila Hackert et al v First Alert, Inc. and BRK Brands, Inc.
The World Fire Safety Foundation
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Sheila Hackert et al v First Alert, Inc. and BRK Brands, Inc.

March 2008

Sheila Hackert lost her husband, William and daughter Christine in a home fire.  Their home was ‘protected’
by a working ionization smoke alarm.  Mrs Hackert sued the world’s largest smoke alarm manufacturer.
In an interview on WTHR’s ‘
Deadly Delay’ series, Mrs Hackert said:

Sheila Hackert
“I just trusted it would work.”

The ionization detector
had a working battery

BRK lost the case.  In overturning the appeal, US Federal Court Judges stated:
(from the Summary Order document below - emphasis added):

“Our review of the record reveals sufficient evidence to support the jury’s determinations

  1. 1.that the smoke detector was defectively designed under New York law,

  2. 2.that Defendants-Appellants were negligent with respect to the smoke detector,

  3. 3.that the smoke detector’s failure was a legal cause of the deaths of William and Christine Hackert; and

  4. 4.that an award of punitive damages was appropriate.”

“I just trusted it would work. I had no idea it wouldn't work.
  It's just horrifying.  It surprises me that more people don't know."

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Download:  Here > > >

Summary Order

Hackert v BRK Brands Inc

Plaintiffs’ Exhibits - Customer Complaints

The following documents detail 355 written complaints about First Alert/BRK’s
ionization smoke alarms failing to activate in a timely manner in real-world fires:

1 ~ 125

126 ~ 224

225 ~ 355

07 Oct, 1989 ~ 16 Dec, 1994
28 Dec, 1994 ~ 25 Jul, 1997
31 Jul, 1997 ~ 21 May, 2001

Jury Verdict
Download the ‘Verdict Form’:  Here > > >hackertcase_files/HackertVerdict.pdfshapeimage_19_link_0

“Every single family in America, if they have
a smoke detector in their house, they’re affected
by this. The proof showed that sometimes the
ionization detectors would’t even go off at all,
and yet they continue to manufacture them,
continue to sell them, continue to stand by them.”

Jim Hacker, Hacker & Murphy LLP
during ‘Deadly Delay’ investigation

Excerpts from ‘Deadly Delay’ Investigation:

Jim Hacker, Hacker & Murphy LLP, in an
interview for the ‘Deadly Delay’ TV Series

“What makes Hackert so angry is she
says the smoke detector right
outside her bedroom never went off
even though the house was full of
smoke and fire.”


Date of Complaint

Download File

excerpt from interview for the
‘Deadly Delay’ TV Series

“Were the defendants negligent in failing to use ordinary care in the
 design, testing, marketing and sale of the ionization smoke alarm?”

excerpt from Verdict Form, ‘NEGLIGENCE’, item 2, page 2
Sheila Hackert, from ‘Deadly Delay’ investigation,  27 Jan, 2008