The family of a North Carolina man who was killed when his refrigerator caught fire filed a lawsuit against Whirlpool Corporation, the manufacturer of the appliance.
WSJM News Radio reports that Ashley Alvin Walker’s surviving family is suing Whirlpool over a 2012 incident that caused the man’s death. Walker noticed smoke coming from his refrigerator and opened the freezer door to investigate. The appliance had overheated more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and opening the door caused a backdraft that introduced a rush of oxygen, producing a fireball that launched at Walker.
According to Courthouse News Service, the family said in the complaint that the fireball damaged Walker’s lungs and burned his face and body. The lawsuit states, “In what must have been extreme agony, decedent managed to pull himself from his kitchen to the front door. Eventually, he was rushed to the hospital by emergency personnel, but unfortunately, it was too late. He died later that day from his injuries. His death certificate lists the cause of death as ‘acute thermal injury’.”
The resulting fire also burned much of Walker’s home and his belongings, reports WSJM.
In the lawsuit, the family claims that the appliance had a defective heating element pin in the icemaker which caused it to overheat. Walker bought the refrigerator in March of 2002, but it had been repaired under warranty at the time of the accident, according to Courthouse News Services. The suit also states that 150,000 house fires are caused by major appliances each year.
Among the allegations listed in the lawsuit are failure to warn, negligence, negligent repair and breach of warranty. Walker’s family seeks both compensatory and punitive damages in this lawsuit.
NOTE: Kelly & West is not representing the family mentioned in this case.
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