April 20, 2021 — The Texas Supreme Court has upheld a $15 million verdict for an electrical technician who was severely burned when he was repairing an HVAC unit.
The lawsuit was filed by Clarence J., an HVAC repairman with more than 30 years of experience on the job. He suffered 2nd- and 3rd-degree burned over 60% of his body when scalding liquid oil exploded out of a Fusite® HVAC unit manufactured by Emerson Electric Co.
The incident was caused by a malfunctioning compressor that sprayed hot oil and refrigerant, which is also known as terminal venting.
The compressor was making an abnormal sound just before terminal venting occurred. Justice Mark T. Pittman argued that the repairman could have avoided being burned if Emerson had warned him about the risk of terminal venting if the compressor was making that sound.
Lawyers argued that Emerson’s warnings were inadequate because similar products warned technicians to be alert for sounds of “sizzling, sputtering, or popping” and to step away immediately if those sounds occur.
The Texas Supreme Court agreed that Emerson failed to warn of known risks with an unreasonably dangerous product, upholding a ruling in favor of the repairman from the Second Court of Appeals.
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