Woman sues Sunbeam over electric blanket that allegedly caught fire

By Bethany Krajelis | Nov 29, 2012

A Pulaski County woman on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit over an electric blanket she claims injured her when it caught fire.

Kathena Clemons brought her complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Sunbeam Products Inc., a corporation that makes a variety of household items including electric blankets.

Clemons’ suit seeks damages for personal injury and property damage that she contends occurred on March 27, 2011, when the Sunbeam electric blanket she was using in her home “suddenly and without warning” caught fire.

As a result of the incident, Clemons claims she suffered burns to her left knee. In addition, she asserts the resulting fire damaged or destroyed her personal property.

Clemons’ complaint includes counts for strict liability, negligence and breach of express and implied warranty. She seeks economic, non-economic and punitive damages in excess of $75,000, as well as costs and pre-and-post-judgment interest.

In her suit, Clemons asserts that Sunbeam’s electric blanket was defective in design in that the safety circuit, known as Circuit 104, didn’t work as intended to prevent the product from catching fire.

Sunbeam, the complaint contends, has received and maintains claim files, warranty returns, complaints and other information since its 2000 introduction into the market that should have put it on notice, if not proved, that Sunbeam electric blankets that contain Circuit 104 cause fires.

Clemons claims that despite ‘the notice and information it has received, and knowledge of the fire hazard of these electric blankets, and the accompanying hazard of serious injury and death, as well as the hazard of fires and property damage, Defendant Sunbeam nonetheless has made the corporate decision” to continue importing, manufacturing, selling and not warning consumers about the dangers associated with its electric blanket products.

The suit adds, “The actions of Defendant Sunbeam, as set forth herein, were willful, wanton, malicious, oppressive, fraudulent, reckless, and with conscious disregard for the safety of the consuming public.”

George E. McLaughlin, an attorney with the Law Offices of John Gehlhausen P.C. in Colorado, filed the complaint on Clemons’ behalf.

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