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Woman sues GM after seat allegedly burns her

A paralyzed woman who is unable to feel temperature change in the lower half of her body filed a lawsuit against General Motors after she allegedly suffered a third-degree burn to her backside from the seat heater of a Chevrolet Suburban.

The Portland (Maine) Press Herald reported that Emma Verrill, 26, was unaware of how hot the seat had gotten until she woke up the following day with a bad burn. Verrill was the passenger in the rear of a friend's Chevrolet 2008 Suburban. The burn was so bad, the newspaper reported, that Verrill required surgery and months in bed to heal.

Her lawsuit, filed in federal court in Maine, accuses the automaker -- already under fire over its mishandling of an ignition switch defect and facing mountains of litigation -- of failing to take the proper precautions to prevent the seat heaters from getting to a temperature that would burn flesh.

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Verrill told the paper that she didn't even know the heater was on. It was a hot day in June 2012, and she said she had no reason to think that it would be.

"I have very limited sensation. I have touch sensation, but I don't have temperature sensation. So if water is too hot or if something is too cold, I can't tell. Because of that, my body can tell me in other ways if there is something that isn't really right. And I just knew that something was wrong," Verrill told the Press Herald.

In response, GM told the court that the seat heater was not defective and refuted Verrill's allegation that it caused her burns. The newspaper reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had not received any similar reports from consumers.

Verrill, who is from Maine, is currently living in Texas, attending Texas State University, where she hopes to earn a master's degree in education.

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