Lennox Faces Class Suit
Over 500,000 Fireplaces
Lennox International Inc. will have to defend against claims by more than 500,000 consumers throughout the U.S. that its gas-burning fireplaces are dangerous.
According to a report in Bloomberg Business Week, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, granted class certification in a lawsuit claiming the outside surface of Superior and Lennox single-pane,
glass-front gas fireplaces can reach temperatures of more than 475 degrees Fahrenheit (246 degrees Celsius), enough to cause third-degree burns to skin.
The February 16 ruling means that the two California homeowners who filed the suit in 2008, Kirk and Kolleen Keilholtz, can represent the claims of all U.S. residents who own homes in which the fireplaces were installed
since Feb. 6, 2004. The plaintiffs claim unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
"The court finds that adjudicating class members' claims in a single action would be superior to maintaining a multiplicity of individual actions involving similar legal and factual issues," Wilken wrote in her decision.
Lennox estimates it sold 556,639 fireplaces to people in the class, Wilken wrote.
Ozzie Buckler, a spokesman for Richardson, Texas-based Lennox, declined to comment on the case.
Jerome Tapley, a lawyer with the Birmingham, Alabama, firm Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris, which represents the consumers, said Lennox should havewarned home owners about the dangers posed by its products.
"It's in the range of twice as hot as an iron on its hottest setting," Tapley said.
The suit seeks economic damages on behalf of the homeowners, Tapley said. It specifically excludes anyone who has been physically injured by the products.
The case is Keilholtz v. Lennox Hearth Products Inc., 08- CV-836, U.S.
District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).