CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County man claims he was badly burned after purchasing and driving a Dodge Grand Caravan because of a defective and unreasonably hot driver's seat heater.

On Dec. 15, 2005, Michael Wilson of Charleston purchased a brand new 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, which was actually designed and manufactured by Chrysler. The vehicle came equipped with electrically heated seats.

Wilson, who was injured as a young man, is a quadriplegic with permanent loss of sensation and use of his lower body and limbs, but despite this disability, he worked a regular job and lived independently.

On April 8, 2006, while driving the Grand Caravan, Wilson suffered severe burns to his thigh and buttocks from the heated driver's seat. Wilson could not sense the intense heat because of his paralysis and was treated for third degree burns.

In a suit filed by Jonathan Mani of the Charleston firm Mani Ellis & Layne, Wilson claims that the electrically heated seat was defective, and Chrysler was negligent by designing, manufacturing, and selling the vehicle with a seat heater that generated such high temperatures and by failing to provide an adequate safeguard against high temperatures. Wilson also claims that Chrysler should have known that by failing to test for intense temperatures and by failing to provide adequate warnings and instructions to people with sensory loss of the dangers of the electrically heated seats they created an elevated risk for their customers.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Wilson also claims that Chrysler knew of the defective seat heaters and that others with sensory loss had suffered sever burns and never notified the proper government agencies.

Wilson, following this incident, required medical care and suffered additional disability and disfigurement. He has lost his enjoyment of life, and experienced inconvenience, anxiety, embarrassment, and interference in his daily activities. He faces extreme bills for future and current medical treatment, and his injuries have impaired his ability to work.

Wilson is seeking a trial by jury to award punitive and economic damages.

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