The Norcold and Dometic propane/electric gas-absorption refrigerators that are original equipment in thousands of recreational vehicles and boats can cause them to burst into flames.
Norcold and Dometic‘s gas-absorption refrigerators have a serious safety defect. The cooling unit has a steel boiler tube that can crack, allowing highly flammable gases to escape and ignite. Experts discovered that a seam in the tube corrodes relatively rapidly even as the rest of the metal appears in good condition.
Refrigerator Fires Responsible for Millions in Damage
The defective products have caused millions of dollars in property damage. National law firm Parker Waichman is investigating the defective Norcold and Dometic gas-absorption refrigerators. The firm’s attorneys can answer questions from boat and RV owners who have suffered injuries or property damage because of the defective refrigerators.
A fire in the confined space of an RV, boat, or trailer is especially dangerous and can be fatal. In an RV or boat, fire can spread quickly from the refrigerator to sleeping areas, trapping sleeping occupants. Boat or RV occupants may have little time to safely escape.
Class Action Lawsuits
In a 2016 class action lawsuit, consumers allege that faulty 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.” The class action seeks to represent a class of all persons who purchased or own a Dometic gas absorption refrigerator manufactured on or after January 1, 1997.
Dometic refrigerators can run on AC or DC electric current, or on propane gas. The propane capability is why these refrigerators are top sellers for boats and RVs. 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.”
Some Norcold and Dometic owners allege that earlier recalls did not correct the underlying problem with the cooling unit. In some instances, a temperature sensor was installed in the refrigerator to detect the temperature rising above safe limits and shut off the power to the entire unit. But this repair did not fix the problem in the cooling units with tubes that can crack and expel flammable gas. And some owners say the repair kit was not properly installed, allowing fires to occur after the owner believed the unit had been repaired.
The tube cracking and venting of gas can happen even when the refrigerator is turned off. The vented hydrogen gas is very flammable and dangerous, according to the lawsuit. Further, the lawsuit alleges, Dometic has known about the defect in its gas absorption refrigerators, and has not fixed the design problem. The manufacturer issued small recalls of certain refrigerators, but the recalls were not wide enough. Dometic continues to sell new refrigerators with the identical defect.
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.”
Owners of defective Norcold and Dometic refrigerators have filed numerous complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in an effort to get the agency involved. RVs and trailers use the nation’s highways and local road. A fire while the vehicle is on the road can endanger other vehicles on the highway or lead to crashes. But if the temperature sensor can prevent a fire, then there is no fire safety issue for NHTSA to act on. Owners of the Norcold and Dometic refrigerators, however, want the manufacturers to make permanent repairs with a redesigned cooling unit that will not crack and expel gas.
Legal Help for Owners of Norcold and Dometic Gas Absorption Refrigerators
If you or someone you know has a Norcold or Dometic gas absorption refrigerator in your boat, trailer, or recreational vehicle you may have important legal rights. If you been injured or suffered property damage in a fire caused by the flammable gas released by the refrigerator, please contact the attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. To reach the firm, fill out the online contact form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).