Maker of space heater sued after house fire

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 15, 2011, 9:19am

TYLER - The manufacturer of a space heater is being sued for negligence following a fire that destroyed a Canton woman's home.

Succeeding the rights of its subrogor Temple Bolt, Texas Farm Bureau Management Corp. filed the lawsuit against Suarez Corp. Industries, also known as Sci Direct, on Aug. 10 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

According to the lawsuit, Bolt's house, which was located in Canton, sustained significant damage on Dec. 27, 2010, due to a fire allegedly caused by an EdenPURE infrared space heater, model 1000XL. The house was considered a total loss.

The defendant is accused of manufacturing a defective product in that the heater did not have sufficient thermal protection or an over-heating protection safety device. The lawsuit also argues that the heater was improperly designed, manufactured, advertised, sold and distributed without warnings to consumers.

The defendant is also accused of negligence for failing to properly and reasonably manufacture the heater which would be reasonably safe for use by consumers, failing to provide adequate warnings about the risk of the heater overheating or catching fire, and failing to apply and provide adequate safety technology to reduce the risk of malfunction.

"Defendant, knowing of the prior incidents of its heaters melting, over-heating and igniting, was reckless and indifferent to its consumers and should be held liable for grossly negligent failure to warn," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of $232,548 in damages for the house, content and assisted living expenses, plus interest and court costs.

Texas Farm Bureau is represented by Robert L. McHaney Jr. of Law Offices of Robert L. McHaney in Waco and John K. Dunlap of Bryne, Cardenas & Aris of Dallas. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:11-cv-00417

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