On November 13, 2020, major home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corporation (“Whirlpool”) was served with class claims in federal court in the Southern District of California alleging that the company manufactured and distributed defective refrigerator-freezers.
In the complaint, plaintiffs Kimberly Chebegia and Kristopher Spear allege that Whirlpool’s KitchenAid refrigerators contained defective control panels. This, in turn, allegedly caused the defrost function on the appliances to fail and ice to accumulate on the outside of the refrigerator doors. The plaintiffs allege that over time, this caused ice to build up, ultimately preventing the doors from fully closing, resulting in leaks to areas within, below and surrounding the refrigerators, impeding their use.
Additionally, the suit alleges that the defective control panels can lead to damage of the evaporator coils, panels, defrost function and thermistors. Further, the suit points out that the build-up of ice and excess water outside of the refrigerators caused by the faulty control panels posed a risk of serious physical injuries from slipping on a wet surface or electrical shock if leaking occurred in the vicinity of electrical cabling, outlets or other appliances.
The plaintiffs argue that the defendants knew or reasonably should have known that the control panels were defective and that the defects would seriously impact the useful components of the refrigerator. Essentially, the suit claims that due to the defendant’s faulty, defective and careless design, the control panels do not operate properly under normal conditions.
The plaintiffs seek to represent a class made up of all persons in the United States who purchased and took delivery of one of the affected refrigerators, acquired one of the affected refrigerators as part of the purchase or remodel of a home or received one as gift, at any time in the prior four years. Class members seek to recover for financial injuries incurred to repair and replace components in the refrigerators, financial injuries incurred to replace food due to the refrigerators not operating properly and/or non-functioning and financial injuries to repair and replace other property damaged by ice build-up and excess water outside of the refrigerators caused by the control panel defect.
The suit brings causes of action for strict liability-failure to warn, strict liability-manufacturing defect, strict liability-design defect-consumer expectation, strict liability-design defect-risk benefit, negligence-manufacturer or supplier-duty to warn, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Violations of Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, violations of Consumers Legal Remedies Act and violations of Cal. Business & Professions Code Section 17200.
The case is: Chebegia et al. v. Whirlpool Corp., Case No.: 3:20-cv-02217, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
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