Sunbeam Liable for $1.1 Million to Texas Woman Burned by Defective Space Heater

SHERMAN, Texas - Txylo -- A $1.1 million verdict was obtained for Plaintiff Debra Nelson by Michael Callahan and Casey Brown of The Callahan Law Firm in a design defect product liability case. The case was tried for 3 days beginning August 30, 2021, in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The damages consisted entirely of human, non-economic damages for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement and physical impairment.  Economic damages were not submitted to the jury.

Plaintiff Debra Nelson suffered a third-degree burn to her back when she woke up in the middle of the night in January 2018 and fainted, knocking over her Sunbeam SQH-310 radiant space heater.  Plaintiff fell onto the exposed, hot grill of the space heater, which seared the skin on the upper right side of her back.  The exposed grill was approximately 290 degrees which can cause a third-degree burn to human skin in less than a second of contact.  A safer alternative design of a safety guard was proposed that would prevent users from making incidental, accidental contact with the unreasonably dangerously hot grill surface.  Plaintiff Debra Nelson underwent months of medical treatment for her burn and ultimately underwent a skin graft.  Even after the surgery, she continues to have nerve pain, impairment and disfigurement due to the injury.

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Sunbeam was represented by David J O'Connell of Goldberg Segalla LLP out of Chicago and Darby Vincent Doan and Kyle Randall Akin of Haltom & Doan from Texarkana. Sunbeam's position was that radiant heaters get hot, it's obvious to the consumer from looking at the glowing red 1000F heating elements of the SQH310 that the heater is hot, and thus their heater was not unreasonably dangerous. After five-hours of deliberation, the jury unanimously agreed that the Sunbeam SQH-310 radiant space heater was defectively designed and attributed no negligence to Ms. Nelson.

Michael Callahan - The Callahan Law Firm

Source: The Callahan Law Firm

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