Suit claims man burned by overheated Panasonic laptop

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jul. 15, 2013, 8:49pm

GALVESTON - An area man alleges that he suffered burns from his laptop last year and has filed suit against its manufacturer.

John A. Hoskins claims that his company-issued Panasonic Toughbook overheated and burned his abdomen in the early hours of Sept. 30, 2012.

The lawsuit, filed July 10 in Galveston County District Court, against Panasonic Corp. of North America, states that Hoskins was sitting slightly reclined in a chair with the laptop on his stomach when the incident occurred.

"Suddenly, and without warning, the bottom of the computer spontaneously and rapidly heated to extreme high temperatures of 96 degrees Celsius, or roughly 205 degrees Fahrenheit," the original petition says.

"The Panasonic Toughbook's spontaneous overheating caused the plaintiff to suffer severe and excruciating burns on his abdomen."

According to Hopkins, the burns caused cellulitis of his abdominal wall, which caused him to go to the nearby University of Texas Medical Branch's Blocker Burn Unit.

He adds his purported injuries required daily, ongoing treatments as well as "painful, unpleasant" continuous visits to UTMB.

Panasonic is faulted for:

  • Failing to prevent the introduction into commerce of defective consumer products;

  • Failing to inspect the laptop computer for manufacturing defects;

  • Failing to inspect the laptop computer for design defects;

  • Failing to design the laptop to ensure it was free of defects causing spontaneous overheating;

  • Failing to manufacture the laptop so as to ensure it was free of defects causing spontaneous overheating;

  • Failing to distribute, market and sell the plaintiff a laptop computer without defects causing spontaneous overheating; and

  • Failing to warn consumers.

Consequently, the complainant seeks $75,000 in damages and a jury trial.

Attorney Bradford J. Gilde of the Gilde Law Firm in Houston is representing Hopkins, and Galveston County 10th District Court Judge Kerry L. Neves is presiding over the litigation.

Case No. 13-CV-893

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