A jury has awarded more than $59 million to the family of a woman who died in a fire caused by a defective space heater.
Following an eight-day trial in federal court in California, the jury found that Sunbeam Products Inc. was negligent in designing its Holmes brand space heater, and that it failed to adequately warn consumers of safety issues.
The wrongful death and product liability lawsuit was filed by the family members of Amy Celeste Shinedling, of Pinon Hills, California. The 36-year-old mother of three died in a January 2011 fire sparked by a Holmes heater.
The heater had a warning stating that combustible materials like furniture, papers and curtains should be kept at least three feet away from the front of the product. But at trial, the family successfully argued that the company’s design failed to account for the possibility that objects can inadvertently be kicked or knocked within three feet of the heater.
In all, the jury ordered Sunbeam to pay the family $59.3 million in wrongful death damages and for emotional distress.
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