Dometic refrigerators are the primary sellers of refrigerators for RVs (recreational vehicles) and boats largely because they can run on either AC or DC electric current or on propane gas. Despite its popularity, there is a class action lawsuit being brought against Dometic Corporation due to complaints that “the refrigerators contain dangerous defects that can cause them to vent pressurized hydrogen and ignite a fire – a remarkably dangerous event in the close confines of an RV or boat where Dometic gas absorption refrigerators are used.”
The class action seeks to represent a Class of all individuals who purchased or own a Dometic gas absorption refrigerator manufactured on or after January 1, 1997. Dometic gas absorption refrigerators “have caused and/or contributed to at least 3,000 fires since 1997, resulting in over $100 million in property damage and personal injury claims,” according to the class action complaint.
The complaint alleges that “every gas absorption refrigerator manufactured by Dometic since 1997 shares common technology, common cooling unit design, and common defects, including the propensity of the refrigerator’s cooling unit boiler tube to corrode, crack, and expel hydrogen gas at high pressure,” according to a class action website.
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The cracking and venting of gas may happen even when the machine is not turned on. The vented hydrogen gas is extremely flammable and dangerous, according to the complaint. It is alleged that Dometic Corporation has knowledge of the defect in its gas absorption refrigerators, and has not taken action to resolve the problem. Two small recalls were issued by Dometic of certain refrigerators, but the recalls were too insignificant and the manufacturer continues to sell new refrigerators with the alleged identical defect.
Manufacturer Allegedly Conceals Dangers
According to the class action suit, Dometic has “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.”
Dometic’s propane electric gas-absorption refrigerators are original equipment in thousands of recreational vehicles such as motor homes, trailers, fifth-wheels, pop-ups, as well as boats. Experts discovered that a seam in the tube corrodes relatively quickly even as the rest of the metal appears to be in good condition. As a result, RV and boat owners have experienced millions of dollars in property damage caused by the defective products.
Prior Dometic Complaints
In March 2012, a plaintiff’s Dometic refrigerator unexpectedly erupted into flames, damaging both the refrigerator and RV. Flames and smoke were visible coming out of the RV vents near the location of the refrigerator. The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue department members arrived and removed the refrigerator, as it was identified as the source of the fire.
In April 2012, the plaintiff contacted Dometic by telephone and notified the company of the malfunction. The plaintiff also emailed photos of the damage adding additional information. Plaintiffs emailed Dometic again, and included further photographs days later. The manufacturer allegedly did not respond.
On August 16, 2015, a consumer’s refrigerator malfunctioned and ignited a fire while parked on their property. A thermal disc fail-safe device had been installed. The RV was totally destroyed in the fire, which also caused damage to the plaintiff’s personal as well as surrounding property.
On March 27, 2016, another plaintiffs’ refrigerator malfunctioned and without warning, caused a fire. The plaintiff witnessed flames from his RV’s refrigerator vent. His RV was completely demolished in the fire, which also caused damage to his house and surrounding property.
In addition, it is noted that Dometic resorted to “retaining a cadre of regionally based fire investigators, third-party claims administrators, attorneys and various engineering and metallurgical experts” upon each report of a refrigerator fire or explosion deployed “for the express purpose of diverting attention” from the refrigerators as the cause of the fire and to conceal the issue from the public.
Despite these allegations, of potentially life-threatening situations, Dometic, along with Norcold (another manufacturer) continue to produce and sell defective gas-absorption refrigerators.
Legal Information and Advice for Consumers
If you or someone you know has been affected by a defective or dangerous product, you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact our personal injury attorneys at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).