CORPUS CHRISTI – A Nueces County jury recently awarded $37 million dollars to a family who lost both parents in a house fire, capping a legal battle that has been ongoing for years.
According to the lawsuit, a defective Lasko space heater caught fire in the home of Martin and Angelita Enriquez on Elvira Street in January of 2016. The blaze trapped the couple in their home — thereby causing both to suffer severe burns, inhalation injuries, and further injuries from toxic gases caused by the flames.
The injuries caused Mr. Enriquez to pass the day after the fire. Mrs. Enriquez died five days later.
The jury found that the heater, which was made in China, had a manufacturing defect — likely a loose wire caused by substandard manufacturing processes. The quality control for the Chinese manufacturing processes were called seriously into question by the evidence.
The case was tried by attorneys Gregory Gowan, Douglas Allison, and Luis Elizondo, who called the heater a “ticking time bomb”.
The firm issued a statement saying that the family is pleased given that the jury put family ahead of those Lasko profits earned by out-sourcing jobs to the cheaper Chinese labor markets.
The Corpus Christi Fire Department determined the fire started in a bedroom at the rear of the one-story home, where they found the Lasko electric heater. The forensic work services performed by CCFD were key to proving that Lasko’s heater was the cause of the fire.
The case was tried in Nueces County Court At Law No. 4, case No. 2017CCV-60993-4.