Hagens Berman, a group that has leveraged successful class-action litigation against giants such as Philip Morris and is taking on Volkswagen for its role in the emissions controversy, filed a class-action suit against Dometic Corp. on April 21, saying the company sold defective refrigerators that can spontaneously ignite on boats and RVs.
The lawsuit said the refrigerators have caused or contributed to at least 3,000 fires since 1997, resulting in more than $100 million in property damage and personal injury claims. It also alleges that Dometic tracked the claims but “failed and refused to eliminate the defects and/or provide consumers with adequate warnings.”
Dometic issued a statement saying the allegations in the complaint, which includes five individual RV plaintiffs, “are without merits” and the company will “vigorously defend against them.”
The 80-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, said the plaintiffs believe that 1.5 million RVs and boats in the country are equipped with “defective gas absorption refrigerators.”
“In particular, defendants have concealed the true nature of the defects in the defective gas absorption refrigerators; have failed to properly repair the defective gas absorption refrigerators; and have instead initiated recall and retrofit campaigns which fail to address the underlying defects in the defective gas absorption refrigerators, fail to alleviate the risk of fire, and when engaged, require the defective gas absorption refrigerators to be replaced,” the complaint read.
In addition to losing money on the cost of the refrigerators, plaintiffs have also had to pay hundreds of dollars to repair or replace their gas absorption refrigerators after the defendants’ failed attempts to fix the defects, the complaint said.
“Plaintiffs have also lost money as a result of having to pay hundreds of dollars associated with loss of use of their RVs or boats,” the complaint said. “Finally, plaintiffs have lost money because they paid for a safe and useful gas absorption refrigerator for their RV or boat and the value of their RV or boat has decreased because of the installed defective gas absorption refrigerator.”
“Defendants have used and manipulated the recall process to conceal the true dangers and safety risks inherent in their defective gas absorption refrigerators from both federal regulators and consumers. As a result, United States highways and campgrounds are flush with RVs containing defective gas absorption refrigerators that can, and with alarming regularity do, spontaneously burst into flames,” the suit said as it addressed two recalls issued by Dometic.
The suit is asking Dometic to repair or replace defective refrigerators and compensate consumers for the diminution of value of their RVs and boats.
The group is seeking a jury trial.