Appliance retailer will replace hazardous clothes dryer vents

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Verdicts & Settlements

March 1, 2011

Appliance retailer will replace hazardous clothes dryer vents 

Appliance store hhgregg, Inc., sells clothes dryers made by several manufacturers. The chain offers “deluxe” and “professional” dryer installation for an additional charge. Each dryer has a warning label telling installers to use a heavy metal vent, rather than a plastic or metal foil vent. The manuals for the appliances include the same warning, and many manufacturers refuse to honor the warranty if the appliance was installed improperly.

Rather than installing the heavy metal vents, hhgregg consistently used metal foil vents without telling customers. Because the vents and warning labels are behind the dryers, customers are often unaware of what type of vent is required or installed.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned that metal foil vents can trap lint and are susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can reduce airflow and cause a fire. Other agencies have noted that clothes dryers are involved in about 15,600 fires annually, often because of improper vent installation.

After discovering the warning label and improper vent on their dryer, Ryan and Amanda Mack filed a class action against hhgregg, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and receipt of illegally obtained money. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendant’s use of the wrong vents placed consumers in danger.

The company agreed to a settlement in which consumers are entitled to either replacement of their metal foil vent or reimbursement of up to $75 if they already paid someone else to replace it.

The court granted preliminary approval. A fairness hearing is scheduled for later this month.

Citation: Mack v. hhgregg, Inc., No. 1:08-cv-00664 (S.D. Ind. Nov. 11, 2010).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members David P. Meyer and Matthew R. Wilson, both of Columbus, Ohio; Thomas A. Hargett and Thomas K. Caldwell, both of Fishers, Indiana; Paul J. Geller and Stuart A. Davidson, both of Boca Raton, Florida; and Robert M. Rothman, Melville, New York.

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