A proposed class action alleges Lippert Components has designed, manufactured and distributed defective axles installed on towable recreational vehicles (RVs), including those made by Forest River, Inc.
The lawsuit, which also names Forest River and seller DeMartini RV Sales as defendants, claims Lippert’s axles “impede” the structural integrity of the frame of a towable RV on which they’re equipped, causing the frame to break.
“Upon information and belief the Axle Defect results from Defendants’ use of cheap steel and other materials, and/or poor welding,” the complaint alleges.
Though Lippert Components touts itself as the leading manufacturer and supplier of RV components throughout North America and boasts that its axles are “reliable,” “superior-grade” and created by “state-of-the-art robotic welders” to ensure precision and quality, the company’s axles are neither reliable nor state-of-the-art given their structural integrity is compromised, the suit says.
Per the complaint, the defect can cause the frames of towable recreational vehicles equipped with Lippert’s axles to prematurely fail at a high rate, causing “irreparable” damage that makes efforts to repair the problem futile. The plaintiff, a Sonoma County, California resident, claims she and many other consumers have had their Lippert-made axles break during the course of normal use of their towable RVs.
Lippert Components has neither publicly acknowledged nor attempted to fix the axle defect despite receiving numerous customer complaints, the case asserts. According to the suit, the apparent defect has both slashed the value of proposed class members’ towable RVs and poses a significant safety hazard.
As the lawsuit tells it, when the Lippert-made axle of the plaintiff’s towable RV broke off the frame during a July 2019 road trip, the frame rode on top of the tire, emitting a “hot brakes” odor, and damaged the RV itself. The plaintiff says she was informed by a welder that the integrity of her towable RV’s frame had been irreparably compromised and was therefore inadvisable to repair.
The case claims the plaintiff’s experience is by no means isolated as Lippert Components and Forest River have received a number of consumer complaints “since at least 2010.”
More specifically, complaints about Lippert’s axles, including those reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), regularly criticize the quality, reliability and functionality of the component, among other problems, the lawsuit says. From the case:
“Reported issues related to the Axles include, but are not limited to, Axles breaking at the spindle, breaking at the shackle weld, wheels falling off, the frame splitting under the TRV’s slide out, cracks, bad-welding, over-flexing and general cracking and breaking of the frame.
Moreover, several complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (‘NHTSA’) reveal similar, if not the same, concerns and further indicate that the Axles pose an excessive and unwarranted safety risk to consumers.”
The lawsuit looks to represent classes of consumers nationwide and in California who bought a Forest River towable RV equipped with a Lippert Components axle within the applicable statute of limitations period. Additionally, the case looks to cover a class of consumers in California who bought a Forest River towable RV equipped with a Lippert Components axle from DeMartini RV Sales.
Initially filed in Nevada County Superior Court, the case has been removed to federal court in California’s Eastern District.
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