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Settlement struck in HHGregg dryer lawsuit

February 2, 2011

A settlement reached in a lawsuit brought by a group of consumers accusing appliance retailer HHGregg of improperly installing dryer vents is set to become final next month.

Federal court documents signifying that a preliminary deal has been struck between the two sides say attorneys could sign off on the settlement on March 18. The documents provide no details on the potential deal.

The suit, certified as a class action in U.S. District Court, alleges that Indianapolis-based retailer HHGregg improperly installed dryer vents in potentially thousands of consumers' homes, despite warnings that such vents could cause fires or other safety hazards.

An HHGregg spokeswoman said Wednesday morning that the company has no comment on the potential settlement.

The complaint includes consumers who bought dryers from HHGregg between May 2004 and March 2007.

The consumers claim the retailer installed plastic or foil “slinky” vents, even though many dryer manufacturers specifically call for heavy metal ducts to be used.

Filed in May 2008, the suit asks that HHGregg replace the improper vents and pay an unspecified amount in fees and damages.

Attorneys filed similar suits against home appliance retailers Lowe's Cos., Home Depot and Sears Holdings Corp. in each corporation's home state.

The suit in federal court in Indianapolis was brought by Ryan and Amanda Mack, who said in their complaint that they bought a $565 dryer at HHGregg’s 96th Street store in Indianapolis in 2007 and paid $59.99 for installation.

They later realized, however, that installers attached a flexible metal foil vent, even though the dryer included a sticker that explicitly stated, “Use a heavy metal vent ... do not use metal foil vents.”

By ignoring the warning, the suit says, the company voided manufacturers’ warranties and created a dangerous situation in which the dryers could catch on fire or cause other safety problems.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that clothes dryers account for 15,500 fires annually.

Plaintiffs in the class action are represented by local attorney Thomas A. Hargett.
 

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