Electrolux Home Products, Inc., the manufacturer of Frigidaire and Kenmore clothes dryers, has agreed to settle a class action filed over dryer fires caused by lint buildup. The lawsuit, filed in California federal court, claimed that a defect in the dryers’ design allowed lint to accumulate near a heat source, posing a serious fire risk. The fires were alleged to cause damage to clothing and other property.
Class members whose machines caught fire within the first 10 years of ownership able to claim up to $1,300 as reimbursement for lost property.
The putative class action was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in 2012 after several consumers complained their machines caught fire and caused damaged to their belongings. According to the suit, this could occur even if the machines were properly installed and operated. Electrolux denied the claims, and continues to argue that the fires only affected a tiny minority of users, many of whom may have had machines installed improperly. The settlement motion, submitted April 30, is now seeking preliminary approval. This has all been a long time coming, according to the motion for approval:
“The parties began discovery in August 2012. Over the next 18 months, the parties engaged in extensive written and document discovery, including production of over 500,000 pages of documents, and copies of numerous electronic databases, comprising terabytes of data. […]In turn, Electrolux served written discovery on Plaintiffs and took each of their depositions in California, New York, Illinois, Arkansas, and Missouri. Plaintiffs produced relevant documents within their possession, in addition to hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and other data— including testing and video— in the possession of their experts.”
A private mediator was engaged in December 2013, with formal mediation beginning on January 7, 2014. Wednesday’s settlement agreement provides for a nationwide settlement, and class members whose machines caught fire within the first 10 years of ownership able to claim up to $1,300 as reimbursement for lost property. A number of brands are covered, including Frigidaire, White Westinghouse, Kelvinator, Gibson, Tappan, Crosley and Kenmore dryers made between 2002 and 2011.
Electrolux has also agreed to pay $8 million in attorneys’ fees and costs.
Good news for consumers? Absolutely – it’s great news. Electrolux can now go about fixing the problem, and consumers can go back to worrying about shrunken shirts, rather than flaming flannel.