A proposed class action alleges certain Kenmore refrigerators sold in the last decade are equipped with a defective linear compressor that can cause the inside of the fridge to fall below a safe food-storing temperature.
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The 54-page lawsuit against Transform SR Brands—which owns Sears and the Kenmore brand—alleges the company has known of the problem “for several years” yet has not disclosed the defect to the public. Instead, the company continues to misleadingly advertise the Kenmore refrigerators as “reliable products,” despite their propensity to fail “relatively shortly after purchase,” the suit says.
Be sure to scroll down to see the model numbers of Kenmore fridges mentioned in the lawsuit.
A compressor is tasked with circulating liquid-to-gas refrigerant throughout a fridge’s cooling system, the case explains. A fridge cannot work without a functioning compressor – a component that “should function for at least ten years,” the complaint states.
According to the lawsuit, the Kenmore fridges at issue, which reportedly cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,700, pose an unreasonable risk of property damage and personal injury by way of foodborne illness.
“A refrigerator that fails to keep food at a safe temperature has no value because it cannot be used safely,” the suit states, stressing that the defective Kenmore fridges are worth significantly less than what consumers paid for them.
Compressor is “the heart” of a refrigerator, case says
The lawsuit shares that a properly functioning compressor is critical to a fridge’s overall operation. Per the case, a fridge’s temperature sensor triggers the compressor to begin and end the cooling process, which involves gas refrigerant entering the compressor and then being pushed through a discharge valve into the coils on the outside of the refrigerator, at which time the gas becomes a liquid as it meets the cooler room temperature.
As cold liquid refrigerant moves through the coils, it cools the air inside the refrigerator by absorbing heat from the surrounding air, and the process is repeated as the refrigerant evaporates into gas and flows back into the compressors, the filing relays.
According to the suit, the defective linear compressors, designed and made by non-party LG Electronics, are distinct from standard compressors in that the piston used to compress the gas refrigerant “moves along a linear track,” the case says. In particular, two component parts of LG Electronics’ linear compressors cause the device to routinely fail well within ten years, the lawsuit claims.
Specifically, the tubing of the compressor evaporator is “prone to corrosion and pitting from ordinary usage,” which can allow pinholes to form in the tubing, the complaint states. These pinholes, the suit says, can cause leakage and allow refrigerant to enter the tubing, which can then cause the refrigerant to “generate excess pressure” as it moves from the evaporator to the condenser.
“The excess pressure puts additional stress on the compressor, which causes the compressor to fail,” the case summarizes.
Further, the defective compressor also has a discharge valve that is “weak and prone to failure from ordinary usage,” the lawsuit adds.
Put simply, when a Kenmore fridge’s linear compressor fails, the fridge stops cooling and runs above the temperature considered safe for food storage, the filing alleges.
This causes food stored in the Class Refrigerators [listed below] to spoil, posing a safety risk to consumers who might become ill from ingesting spoiled goods.”
Which Kenmore fridges allegedly have defective compressors?
According to the lawsuit, affected Kenmore refrigerators include, but may not be limited to, those bearing the following model numbers:
Upon information and belief, the suit says, most of the refrigerators listed above came with an express warranty that their compressors would function for ten years.
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Lawsuit says Kenmore fridge compressor problems are well known
Even prior to the litigation, Sears’ warranty department received complaints from across the country about the Kenmore linear compressors and dispatched technicians to visit consumers’ homes and inspect their fridges, the case continues. The repair techs are said to have reported “large volumes” of compressor-related failures in Kenmore fridges, the filing says, describing the issue as “well-known among the company’s authorized technicians.”
Further still, the internet is littered with hundreds of reports of Kenmore fridge failures caused by the linear compressor, the complaint says.
To date, the defendant has not warned consumers of the linear compressor issue, recalled the affected fridges, or offered to repair consumers’ fridges free of charge, much less refund buyers for any or all of the price they paid for the product, the lawsuit relays.
Who’s covered by the lawsuit?
The suit aims to represent all residents of the United States and its territories who, within the last ten years, bought or otherwise acquired (for household use and not for resale) any Kenmore refrigerator that contained a defective linear compressor.
I own one of these fridges. How do I get involved?
When a proposed class action is initially filed, there’s nothing a consumer needs to do to join or sign up for the case. In truth, it’s only if and when a class action settles that a person affected by the case, called a “class member,” would need to act. Most of the time, this involves filling out and filing a claim form online or by mail, and often those covered by a settlement will receive a direct notice with information on their legal rights and what to do next.