Sunbeam Products Inc. must pay more than $1 million to a Texas woman who suffered third-degree burns after falling onto a defectively designed space heater.

Debra Nelson says that Sunbeam, a subsidiary of Newell Brands Inc., is to blame for her burns because it designed a radiant space heater that directly exposes users to high temperatures. The jurors ultimately sided with Nelson, handing her $1.1 million for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement and physical impairment.

The dispute dates back to April 2019, when Lamar County resident Nelson sued Sunbeam in Texas federal court over a Model SQH310 heater she purchased for her mobile home in 2018.

Nelson woke up in the middle of the night in January 2018 and fainted, knocking over the space heater. Nelson said she then fell onto the exposed, hot grills of the space heater, which “seared the flesh of her back.”

Sunbeam sought to convince the jury that Nelson’s negligence was to blame for her injuries.

But the panel was unconvinced, ruling on that design defects, not Nelson’s alleged negligence, brought about the accident. The jurors deliberated for roughly five hours before reaching the $1.1 million verdict.


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