Class Action Suit Against Norcold

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Gary RV_Wizard

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It's been expected for awhile, but it appears to have finally happened... a class action suit has been filed against Norcold concerning their numerous refrigerator problems. I received this notice today:

On December 12, 2012, consumers in California and Florida filed a class action lawsuit against Norcold, Inc., claiming that the company knowingly manufactured dangerously defective refrigerators that caused over 2,000 RV fires, but hid that fact from consumers and federal regulators through false and ineffective product safety recall campaigns. The lawsuit is focused on Norcold-brand 6, 8 and 1200 Series gas absorption refrigerators. The plaintiffs seek to force Norcold to fix their products, and to offer new, non-defective replacement refrigerators to all RV owners who currently own one of the affected products. The suit also seeks to recover money consumers have lost as a result of failures caused by defects in Norcold's refrigerators, as well as money spent by consumers in responding to the recalls, or otherwise attempting to fix the products to they could be operated safely. A press release is attached with more information. Anyone interested in sharing their experiences with their Norcold refrigerator, or participating in the lawsuit, should contact the people listed in the release, or visit this website - http://www.zimmreed.com/Norcold-RV-Refrigerator-Fire/63879/. 

About Zimmerman-Reed
Zimmerman Reed is a nationally recognized leader in complex and class action litigation and has been appointed as lead attorneys in some of the largest and most complex cases in state and federal courts across the country. The firm was founded in 1983 and has successfully represented millions of consumers and injured individuals in ground breaking cases. The firm has offices in Minneapolis & Scottsdale.

 
Gary,

I suspect there will be one also for Dometic.  None of these so called "fixes" are.  At best they are an attempt to shut things down when the failure happens.  None of them are very effective as fires still occur even with the "fixes". 

I still have a Dometic in my MH but I am adding a few "fixes" of my own before we leave and power it up again.  If it fails, a residential refer will be installed.
 
SargeW said:
Wow, it will be interesting to see if this suit gets feet and takes off.  These things usually drag out for several years though.

My daughter got put into one and it took 10+ years and she got nearly nothing.  The lawyers on the other hand made a fortune!!
 
She had a great case and had a shark that was already negotiating a settlement when the company pulled an end around and got her suit combined with the class action.  Frustrating.  Even her lawyer did not make out as he was dropped and barely got expenses.  We talked to him and he was as bitter as my daughter.
 
I hope it results in working and SAFE equipment. (I've never had a Norcold fridge.)

Maybe this is just a matter of perception, but how come it doesn't seem that the newer Dometic fridges are blasted half as much as the Norcold ones are online in all these 'net forums?

I have a new Dometic in our new motorhome (and have had two previous older Dometic fridges in our other TTs - all bought new also) and have never had an issue in all these years. Am I just lucky, or a sitting duck...

However, the threat of fire scares the heck out of me - especially since our cat comes with us when we travel now. I guess there's no way to tell if the Norcolds really are worse somehow than their Dometic competitors?  I would assume that the actual absorbtion technology is the same (or at least very similar) in both...



 
Several years back it was Dometics that had all the problems and were getting blasted in print and online, though most issues were simple failures rather than life-threatening.  Norcolds repeated bungles of the recall "fix" has made them a laughing stock, though.
 
These "fixes" aren't intended to fix anything except the potential for danger to people (and, of course, the company's liability for it).  People are often upset about that sort of "fix" because they fail to understand that a product recall is, by federal law, strictly about product safety and not about warranty or function or quality. It takes a civil lawsuit (or the threat of one) to obtain compensation for a faulty product once it is out of warranty.
 
I guess I have not been around here long enough to know the issue. What is the safety issue with these Norcold (and Dometic) units that involves fire hazard? I have seen many people here discuss switching to residential units but I thought that was mostly a cost issue.

P.S. I have a Dometic and at some point the metal shield was installed which I think was a recall fix.
 
Legal mumbo jumbo has never made sense to me.  So please excuse my question.  After reading the suit, am I to correctly understand that the suit pertains to the N6, N8, and 1200 series models only?  I have a Norcold in my TT and have had no problems until recently.  Because of this, I will have to check into the model of mine.  I don't expect anything out the suit if I may have the older model included in the suit.  But if I should be worrying about a fire, I need to know.
 
So far I've been in two Class Actions.

One of them I'm still waiting on the result.  This one was brought by the Attorney General of the state and the case has been won, the waiting is to find out how big the class is and then it is "Settlement/number in class" and write checks, Since the case was brought by the attorney general, We may actually get money out of it.  Time will tell.

The other,, I got either a $2.00 or $2.50 store credit at Iomega.  I've not purchased anything from Iomega since (No need for anything they make)  I will admit though that my ZIP drive never did the "Click of death" thing the suit was over so I'm not a victim either. It worked well.
 
[quote author=dave61]What is the safety issue with these Norcold (and Dometic) units that involves fire hazard?[/quote]

Browse or search our Industry Recalls board.
 
am I to correctly understand that the suit pertains to the N6, N8, and 1200 series models only?

Yes. Other Norcold models are not included in the lawsuit (at this time).

Without making any judgment on the merits of the case, I will note that there have been few reports of fires with N6xx and N8xx models. I will also note that the aborption cooling process is an old and well-known one that has been in use for nearly 100 years by a variety of refrigerator companies, and not limited to just RVs or boats. Dometic had some fire issues for a few years but seems to have fixed them. Norcold has not been so successful and does not seem to have either eliminated the source of the problem (leaks in the cooling system) or added adequate fail-safes to prevent danger. Their lawyers are going to have their work cut out for them to come up with any creditable defense.
 
Thanks guys.  I guess I'm ok for now.  Until Spring to figure out what the problem I am having is all about before the next camping season.  Merry Christmas.
 
SargeW said:
That's the truth Jim. The lawyers are the only real winners in most of these suits.

Why what do ya mean?  I got $2.75 from a class action against a mortgage company a couple of weeks ago.  :mad:
 
I am not a lawyer, but did read the complaint. It describes the classes as: All persons, who during the Class Period, purchased and/or owned a Norcold N6, N8 and/or 1200 Series gas absorption refrigerator in Florida (the ?Florida State Subclass?) and/or All persons, who during the Class Period, purchased and/or owned a Norcold N6, N8 and/or 1200 Series gas absorption refrigerator in California (the ?California State Subclass?). So it would seem that if you are not from California or Florida or purchased a refridgerator/RV containing one in one of those states, that you would not be included in this action. Would be interesting to see if producing a campground receipt would be accepted as having "owned" the refridgerator in California or Florida.

 
Trailer traveler said:
I am not a lawyer, but did read the complaint. It describes the classes as: All persons, who during the Class Period, purchased and/or owned a Norcold N6, N8 and/or 1200 Series gas absorption refrigerator in Florida (the ?Florida State Subclass?) and/or All persons, who during the Class Period, purchased and/or owned a Norcold N6, N8 and/or 1200 Series gas absorption refrigerator in California (the ?California State Subclass?). So it would seem that if you are not from California or Florida or purchased a refridgerator/RV containing one in one of those states, that you would not be included in this action. Would be interesting to see if producing a campground receipt would be accepted as having "owned" the refridgerator in California or Florida.

Not entirely accurate.  I'm from Texas and have been asked to be a named person in the suit, which I am contemplating at this point. 

I know there have been many complaints regarding Norcold (including my own), but I'd like to hear of some real life cases from those who have had problems.  In the past, I just read and forgot about them.  Now, if I'm to be involved, I'd feel more comfortable knowing what the extent of the problem really is.
 
Good reporting, Gary.

"Fear" of Norcold and their propensity of spontaneous combustion was one of the reasons we purchased a new coach.  We saw first hand a Norcold caused fire which destroyed a motorhome at a Florida RV resort last winter.  The fact that Norcold could not make "old" technology safe, leads me to the conclusion they must be a poorly managed company.  Norcold may not survive, this law suit may help accelerate the RV industry toward RR.
 

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