Man claims work boots cause painful burns

January 4, 2009 6:44:38 AM PST
A man has painful burns on his feet and he claims they're from chemicals in the work boots that he bought. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The man from Magnolia says he picked up some work boots at a Wal-Mart store, and he says the shoes have given him some major problems. He wants to know why.

It's the last thing Jay Kowolski thought would ever happen. He bought a new pair of work boots and almost immediately his feet began to itch, then burn. It wasn't until he took off the boots that he realized the extent of the damage to his feet in just one day. He took pictures to show the severity of the reaction.

"It's a real lightweight suede boot, sued leather work boot," said Kowolski.

Kowolski bought at the boots at a Wal-Mart in Tomball. They are the Brahma brand; a popular, reasonably priced boot. Kowolski wears boots at his job and on a rainy day, the new boots got wet, and that's when he says his feet began to have a burning sensation.

"When I got home and pulled my boots off, my toes were all covered in red, just literally started eating into the skin," he said.

The next day Kowolski could barely walk. His wife took him to a doctor.

"'They said it was an allergic reaction to something in the boot, from the water going through the boots creating some sort of chemical reaction and had burned his feet," said Jay's wife, Kandie Kowolski.

Kowolski spent the next three weeks off his feet and on antibiotics. His skin eventually grew back, however he says the tips of his toes remain slightly red.

Kowolski's wife, meanwhile, began researching the boots and found similar experiences had happened to at least two other people. Kandie Kowolski sent a certified letter to Wal-Mart's president and CEO in Arkansas. She says she's upset the company has not responded.

"Actually, I am because they seem to, you know, they portray that they care so much about the American people but you get a letter like this and you don't even respond?" she said.

She is worried the problem could happen again.

"I would like for them to take these boots off the shelf," said Kandie. "Don't put the rest of these American people at risk because of something like that."

Because of the holiday weekend, a Wal-Mart spokesperson was unable to speak specifically about the boots, but offers this general statement.

"The safety of our customers and associates is a top priority. Wal-Mart is committed to the highest standard of quality and safety with the merchandize that is available in its stores. We take every claim seriously and investigate each and every one."

As for the Kowolskis, they tell Eyewitness News they have stopped buying any type of shoes at Wal-Mart until their complaint is resolved.

In 2007, about 10 customers claimed they received burns and blisters from flip-flop sandals they bought at Wal-Marts across the country. It's a different brand from the boots. After learning about the problem, Wal-Mart pulled the sandals off store shelves.

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