Tort Law

Blistered bottom was caused by car seat warmer, suit says

An 85-year-old personal injury lawyer in Eugene, Ore., has taken on a 20th case alleging seat warmers in cars caused third-degree burns in people with sensory disabilities.

Art Johnson and his firm have won pretrial settlements for 16 clients in seat-warmer cases for undisclosed amounts, the Oregonian reports. His 20th case was filed on behalf of Don Hedlind, who was paralyzed in a shooting more than 25 years ago.

Hedlind thought he was turning on the back warmer in his 2008 Chevy Silverado pickup truck, which he operates with hand controls, but he apparently turned on the seat heater by mistake, the suit says. He didn’t know anything was wrong until 10 to 12 hours later, when he noticed something wet on his jeans. His skin had blistered from the heat, and the blisters had punctured. He had to spend five months on his belly while the wound healed.

GM’s lawyers have responded that Hedlind was negligent and his misuse of the truck caused the problem, according to the story. They assert that the truck was neither defective nor unreasonably dangerous.

The Oregonian says Johnson has “blazed a six-decade trail of litigation that reads like a history of American failure: flaming pajamas, super-absorbent tampons, intrauterine birth-control devices, silicone breast implants, defective hip replacements, and malfunctioning planes, trains and automobiles.” He is among 120 active Oregon lawyers who are older than 80.

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