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Class Action Suit Filed After Refrigerator Fires

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

On June 24, 2016, owners of Dometic Corporation gas absorption refrigerators filed class-action claims against the company, claiming that the refrigerators leak flammable gas and cause fires. The lawsuit alleges that Dometic knew that the defective refrigerators, mostly found in boats and RVs, have caused more than 3,000 fires since 1997, resulting in over $100 million in property damage and personal injuries, but failed to address the defect and/or provide consumers with adequate warnings.

However, not all named plaintiffs have actually experienced refrigerator fires; instead, they claimed to have suffered economic damages, claiming they paid more for their RVs and boats than they would have had they known of the refrigerator defect. Plaintiffs’ attorneys, Zimmerman Reed, argue in the complaint that the plaintiffs should not have to wait until they experience a possibly dangerous fire to seek relief for the defect, as preventative action could cost plaintiffs a significant amount.

This is not the first time Dometic has had to address problems with a product. In 2006, and again in 2008, the company issued a recall on refrigerators to retrofit the products with new cooling units. However, plaintiffs argue that the previous recalls did not address the problem affecting their refrigerators. Refrigerators in the suit are said to have defective cooling unit boiler tubes, which tend to corrode and leak flammable chemicals.

Zimmerman Reed became aware of the defect in Dometic’s refrigerators during a three-year class-action suit against the company’s competitor, Norcold, that settled for $36 million in March 2016. (Etter, et. al. v. Norcold Inc.,

Case No. 8:13-CV-0081-JLS-RNB, District Court for the Central District of California).

The case is: Catherine Papasan, et al. v. Dometic Corporation, et al., Case No. 3:16-cv-02117, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division

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