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Old 09-12-2014, 06:37 PM   #1
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Norcold Class Action Suit Settled

Before you read through the press release below, please note that this settlement is NOT for the infamous Norcold 12XX units that have caused a significant amount of damage and a few deaths.

This settlement is for the Norcold N6 & N8 model fridges that were the predecessors to the 12XX series POS fridges. They knew how to build CRAP long before introducing the 1200 fridge and then the 1201 and the 1210, etc. etc. etc.

Personally they still know how to build CRAP, nothing changes except for money changing hands from the POS manufacture to the lawyers. The people affected the most won't get anything except for more lies.

EDIT: Well after re-reading the settlement it does include owners of the 1200 units. I was confusing this class action settlement with another more current one that was solely for the 12XX series fridges.

Norcold Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Thetford Corp., has agreed
to a $33 million settlement of two class action lawsuits filed in 2012
pending in federal district court in Los Angeles. The suits were filed
on behalf of customers who had purchased certain Norcold gas
absorption RV refrigerators and alleged the refrigerators had design
defects that created safety risks and that the company had sought to
hide from the public.

As many as 569,000 refrigerators potentially could be included under
the settlement, which involves both current and former Norcold owners
and is still subject to court approval before being finalized,
Thetford spokesmen report.

The tentative settlement, to which Thetford’s Dyson-Kissner-Moran
Corp. (DKM) parent firm is also a party, applies to consumers who own
owned Norcold 1200 Series refrigerators manufactured between Jan. 1,
2002, and Oct. 1, 2012, or who currently own Norcold Series N6 or N8
units assembled between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2013.

Thetford President Kevin Phillips says the settlement allows Norcold,
which denies the allegations, to avoid the uncertainty, risk, expense
and distraction of further class-action litigation. Class action
plaintiffs must approve the settlement, $8.23 million of which is
earmarked for administrative costs and plaintiff’s attorneys, before
it can be finalized by the court.

“We don’t expect there to be any problem with it being approved by the
court in which case it will be pretty much done. It just takes some
time to play out the paperwork side of things,” said Phillips, who
hopes to have everything wrapped up within a year and stresses that
the tentative settlement does not amount to an admission of guilt with
regard to the plaintiff’s claims that defective refrigerators have
caused fires in boats and RVs.

“Yes, we simply looked at it and said, ‘let’s wrap this up and get rid
of the risk and the uncertainty and the time that it takes to deal
with a class action lawsuit,” said Phillips. “We deny all the
allegations that they’ve made, but we do want to get past it.”

Phillips further stressed that the tentative settlement is distinct
from an ongoing recall with which Thetford’s Ohio-based Norcold
division has been dealing. “The class action suit is separate from the
recall we have going on,” said Phillips. “The recall itself is the
defect they were talking about. So, we’ve been working on the recall
for a long time. We’ve found 82% of the units manufactured during that
time period – that’s pretty remarkable for any recall — and have
disposed of and repaired them. We want to find the rest of the units.”


Dr4Film ----- Richard
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Old 09-13-2014, 01:02 PM   #2
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Actually this is a "Tentative" settlement. Lets see what the "nuts and bolts" turn out to be.

Fred
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Old 09-18-2014, 09:47 PM   #3
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This is why I stick with Dometic. Norcold has is to notorious for overheating and cooling failures.
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:10 PM   #4
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"...disposed of and repaired...." Deceptive words. This does not seem to say that they have fixed the problem with the refrigerators, just with the recall box. Typical doubletalk. I am PO'd that I have spent $$$ putting in a new Amish cooling unit and doing a bunch of other things to get this thing to be safe and work adequately. It should have been right from the start and if not, they should have fixed it. Owners of these units probably won't see much or any of the settlement, but I hope this stings them. They deserve it.
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Old 09-21-2014, 07:08 PM   #5
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"...disposed of and repaired...." Deceptive words. This does not seem to say that they have fixed the problem with the refrigerators, just with the recall box. Typical doubletalk. I am PO'd that I have spent $$$ putting in a new Amish cooling unit and doing a bunch of other things to get this thing to be safe and work adequately. It should have been right from the start and if not, they should have fixed it. Owners of these units probably won't see much or any of the settlement, but I hope this stings them. They deserve it.
I have heard Norcold has had a lot of recalls on their products. That's why I am hesitant to ever use their products. Yes they certainly deserve to get it repaired or get their money back on the fridge. I know I put Dometic gas/electric fridge into my RV and I love. It barely gets warm in the back vent and the fridge and freezer get extremely cold. I love it. So if they have to replace the fridge, I hope they'll end up with something far better than what their dealing with now.


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Old 09-22-2014, 06:57 PM   #6
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The real facts regarding the Norcold refrigerator units

First, there is NO SETTLEMENT at this time. There is a highly controversial PROPOSED SETTLEMENT that has not been ruled on by the Court. Additionally, there is also a Motion of Objection from a significant portion of the named plaintiff’s in this case who formally object in total to this settlement as being inadequate, unfair and that it does nothing to protect the 1,000,000 owners of these Norcold units which are contended to be defective in design and manufacturer.

For what it is worth, I am the named plaintiff in this lawsuit. I have personally been involved with every aspect of the lawsuit since the day that my SECOND Norcold refrigerator ruptured and became defective (the first exploded and caught on fire). I have provided documentation, sworn testimony and personally reviewed every document filed in this lawsuit. I quite literally have spent hundreds of hours researching these issues, reviewing evidence submitted by the defendants and speaking with many other Norcold owners across the United States who have experienced similar problems.

I have seen many comments on these forums regarding the issues, many of them totally uninformed and a lot of them providing highly incorrect “opinions” presented to be “facts”. The aren’t facts, and they are wrong. As a result, I thought it was time to set some of the issues straight, and the best way to do so is thorough the actual pleadings in this case with specific quotations from depositions provided by direct Norcold employees, as well as expert witnesses qualified to testify on the real “facts” concerning these defects.

Below are facts and issues at law currently being litigated against Norcold, Thetford and the private equity firm that owns them – DKM (Dyson Kissner Moran Corporation). Specific admissions are documented from depositions from Norcold employees, expert witnesses, and more. The comment below in RED are mine and they are presented as highly informed opinions based upon the evidence in this case.


From the Class Certification Motion filed on February 28, 2014
Etter v Norcold, et al…

Case 8:13-cv-00081-HLS-R NB Document 100 – Filed 2/28/14

These are the named plaintiff’s main contentions in this case:

In fact, consistent with their long history of concealment, Defendants simply chose not to address Plaintiffs’ class claims that: (1) the true defect is that Defendants’ cooling unit’s boiler tubes have a premature corrosion problem that causes them to develop holes and leak flammable gas; (2) any retrofit device installed does not fix that defect or do anything to stop the leaks; (3) the risk of leaks and dangerous fires remains even after the installation of any retrofit; and, (4) these facts have been uniformly concealed from the class, having been classified by Defendants as “confidential” materials that “Norcold does not disclose to the public.”

The common defect at issue in this case is that the cooling unit’s boiler tubes have the propensity to corrode prematurely and leak. A result of the defect is that flammable gas escapes from the breach, near a heat source, creating a dangerous fire risk. But if a leak occurs, regardless of whether it results in a fire, the cooling unit is still completely destroyed and in need of complete replacement. While Defendants’ “experts” nonchalantly offer that a “leak is just a leak,” they ignore the critical fact that once a leak occurs, like a balloon with a pinhole or a Coke bottle with a crack, the pressurized unit is completely destroyed and a replacement is needed – at a substantial cost to the consumer. Compare Doc. 75 with Klein Dep. at 84 (Ex. 3). This defect has never been “repaired” as part of any recall. Thus, leaks and fires continue to occur, even in units retrofitted with the latest High Temperature Sensor (“HTS”), because as Defendants admit, the HTS was never designed to stop leaks.

Expert witness testimony, as well as the testimony of numerous Norcold employees, have shown that the High Temperature Sensor Recall Kits DO NOT fix the dangerous defects present in the Norcold Cooling units. These Recall Kits are band aids that do not work as has been documented by the FACT that Norcold refrigerator units continue to rupture, leak, explode and catch on fire AFTER THE RECALL KITS HAVE BEEN INSTALLED.

Klein Dep. at 20, 248-49, 267-68. Defendants’ own Incident Log, Incident Files and Warranty Log all show that leaks continue to be reported in 6, 8 and 1200 series refrigerators even after Defendants’ recalls and purported “fixes.” Layson Decl. 7 and Ex. B (showing examples of fires in 6, 8 and 1200 series units continuing through 2013); Keifer Decl. 9-12 and Ex. H, I. See 2nd Beard Decl. 8-12. While Defendants try to downplay the number of leaks and fires, their contention is contradicted and their purported statistical calculations are unsupported and unreliable. Id. In all, there have been over 2,500 fires and thousands more leaks reported. Id. And those figures are conservative as not all leaks and fires are reported to Defendants and recorded in their Incident and Warranty Logs.


Defendants retained several engineering firms (University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), Metallurgical Solutions, Inc. (MSI), and Crane Engineering), to evaluate the issue. All concluded that a defect existed which caused the boiler tubes to leak. Cutright Dep. at 138 (Ex. 6) (“It showed that the boilers had suffered corrosion and the leaks were caused by the corrosion”).1 In turn, Defendants’ own contractors and engineers reported the existence of a common defect to Defendants’ Executive Committee in a series of presentations in 2010. Those presentations reported that the “Cause of Boiler Failure” was “Pitting from corrosion causes leak in boiler area.” PowerPoint Presentation, August 2010 (NRC 000307)(Ex. 12). See also PowerPoint Presentation, June 2010 (NRC 000261)(“Corrosion inhibitor (Chromate) consumed and no longer protects steel tube. Pitting from corrosion will provide source for leak or weakness in tube. Confirmed by analysis at Crane Engineering and MSI.”)(Ex. 14). 2 Due to the common defect identified, in October 2010 Defendants made a decision to recall all 1200 series refrigerators manufactured since 1996 and have them retrofitted with a common device - the HTS. Defendants sent standard-form recall notices to all owners of 1200 series refrigerators reporting the existence of a common “defect” and their right to a “repair” and “remedy,” regardless of the unit’s purchase date or the owner’s state of residence. The problem, however, is that the HTS does not “fix” the defect that causes the leaks. To actually fix the corrosion problem, the engineering firms that Defendants retained proposed replacing the boiler tubes with those made of a different material or thickness or a different boiler system. 3 Defendants, however, chose not to implement these changes and instead, 1 Klein Dep. at 434 (“As indicated in the MSI report, we were receiving corrosion on the inside of the boiler, which led to pitting and cracking on the inside.”); Cutright Dep. at 148 (“MSI identified corrosion could create a leak condition in the boiler.”), 155 (“Q. And did Crane Engineering come back and confirm that MSI had gotten it right? A. Yes.), 158-160, 300-301 (“The corrosion was the cause of the leak.”); MSI Report, May 2010 at p. 1 (“Four samples were submitted for evaluation. The samples failed while in service...Pitting was found on all samples along the inner diameter...Pitting corrosion was the primary mode of failure for this sample.”). Despite repeated requests, Defendants have refused to provide numerous materials in discovery including documents exchanged with Crane Engineering, as well as the reports of expert witnesses from other litigation which address the common defects. 2nd Beard Decl. 11. See PowerPoint Presentation, August 19, 2010 (“Option #1 for New Production:...Redesign boiler to reduce consumption of chromate and therefore reduce corrosion...Increase wall thickness of boiler tubing to provide additional strength and increase time to leak from corrosion.”); PowerPoint Presentation, July 21, 2010 (NRC 000271)(Ex. 32)(“Solution: Increase wall thickness of boiler tubing.”); erPoint Presentation, June 22, 2010 (NRC 000263-265)(“Solution: Slow Chromate consumption by redesign of boiler system.”); UDRI Report, Failure Investigation of a Generator Tube, February 2005)(“A material substitution for the generator tube might be considered. Creep resistant materials include austenitic stainless steel and ferritic steels having higher chromium or molybdenum contents.”)(Keifer Decl., Ex. G).

Sodium chromate (Sodium chromate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) is a KNOWN CANCER CAUSING AGENT and it is one of the ingredients in the gases present in a Norcold cooling unit. If you look on some of the RV fourms you will see on at least one thread where someone with a brand new 2014 Norcold saw stuff leaking down their absorber coils – and it was suggested that he sniff it and see if it smelled like ammonia. It was in fact most likely sodium chromate, which is what leaks out of a blown boiler, and should most definitely NOT be inhaled under any circumstances. This is something that should definitely be made clear to Norcold owners, so that people who are doing their annual "maintenance" know what the hell to stay away from. Additionally, if you are on your RV when your cooling unit / boiler ruptures, there is a chance that you will be inhaling this CANCER CAUSING AGENT (NOTE – how many posts have you seen where people stated that they “smelled’ ammonia in their coach when their cooling unit failed?)


This assertion is highly misleading as it conflicts directly with these same witnesses’ prior testimony, which makes clear that leaks and fires continue to occur in cooling units even after they have been retrofitted with the HTS.

Q. With respect to the HTS, though, is it accurate to say that the HTS retrofit does not stop the cooling unit from leaking?

A. Yes.

Cutright Dep. at 213-214.

This is from a deposition from a Norcold employee that ADMITS that their High Temperature Sensok kit DOES NOT fix the problem.

Q. Is it correct that Norcold has continued to experience 1200 series fires in units equipped with the latest high temperature sensor?

A. That is correct.

Klein Dep. at 466-67. See also Cutright Dep. at 221; Klein Dep. at 188, 280, 285-286, 456, 460; Harris Dep. at 124, 147,152-153, 172 (Ex 4); Strasburg Dep. at 37-39, 47, 89, 90-96 (Ex. 2). Defendants and their purported experts completely gloss over these admissions. As Mr. Klein confirmed “we could not stop the corrosion”...“there is no way to shut that off or stop that.” Klein Dep. at 460-461, 464-467. Klein went on to testify that while Defendants were working to address the problem by redesigning newly manufactured refrigerators to have thicker boiler tubes, the same changes have never been offered to owners of existing units. While Defendants would like the Court to believe that the defect has been completely fixed, they offer no explanation for the fact that leaks and fires continue to be reported in 6, 8 and 1200 series units through the present. Strasburg Dep. at 93-96:

Q. Now, my understanding, from talking with Mr. Klein and from talking with Mr. Roberts, is that the consistent problem with the 1200 series refrigerator, in particular, the N6 and N8 a little less, but the 1200 in particular, is that the boiler tube cracks and leaks, and when that happens, it releases flammable gas that is ignited by the heaters and starts a fire, that that’s been the consistent problem for the last decade. Is that accurate?

A. Yes.

Plaintiff Ray Rolle is a good example. While Mr. Rolle had had the HTS installed on his Norcold refrigerator, it still leaked, caught fire and destroyed his RV in late 2012. Norcold’s own fire investigator examined the RV and concluded that a leak existed and the HTS had been installed. See Report, Indep. Fire Consulting, February 2013 (Etter_7488_Green_211-212) (Ex. 33)(“Copious amount of leak detection solution applied to the boiler section revealed a leak.” Close examination reveals the HTS is installed correctly according to instruction.”). Obviously, despite having the HTS installed, the defect was never “fixed” and a safety risk continued to exist. Norcold elected to only give owners of existing 1200 units a low-cost retrofit – the HTS. But again, the problem with the HTS is that the HTS does nothing to address the actual defect which causes the leaks. Id. Instead, the HTS is designed to only react to situations where excessive temperatures develop, after a leak has already occurred. And even then the HTS does not stop all fires. Thus, to call the so-called “repair” proposed by Defendants anything close to being a complete “fix” of the common defect is a fallacy - the same risk of a debilitating leak remains with or without the HTS.

Some people on these forums want to call into question the number of fires that have been reported. Well, the number of fires reported are actually from Norcold’s own incident logs that were discovered in depositions. These reports are FIRES, not failures of the cooling units. There are THOSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of additional cooling units that have ruptured and exploded, and not resulted in fires, but have resulted in thousands of dollars worth of repairs to the owners.

Additionally, the estimates are that there have been hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property losses as a results of these failures. In addition to having their RV’s burn to the ground, owners have lost their garages and their homes as a result of these fires. Numerous people have been injured as a result of these Norcold refrigerator fires and AT LEAST ONE HAS DIED (See story - http://www.marylandinjurylawyerblog.com/2006/07/7_million_products_liability_s.html).

The combination of the insufficient boiler tubing thickness and the corrosive materials used in the chemical solutions cause the boilers to fail over time. There are in excess of 1,000,000 of these defective boilers currently in use in RV’s all across the United States and Canada. One of them may be parked next to you the next time you are out on your RV. Check out this YouTube video - RV fire/explosion at West Biloxi RV park - YouTube. How would you like to have this RV parked next to yours in the middle of the night? How would you like to have your grandchild sleep on the sofa bed located directly next to this refrigerator?

A group of people at great personal costs to themselves in terms of time and energy have spent two and a half years to attempt to rectify this situation on behalf of almost 1,000,000 people they will never meet – such as yourselves. We have travelled across the country to be deposed. Spent hours collecting, copying, scanning documents to be entered into evidence.

Unfortunately two of the firms involved in this case have constructed a settlement in this case which is a lousy settlement that is objected to by a sizeable number of the named plaintiffs – not because of the amount of money involved in the settlement, but because it leaves hundreds of thousands of people at risk of property loss, personal injury, and potentially death. We are now formally objecting to the settlement that has been proposed as being inadequate, unfair and the biggest problem, that it fails to address and resolve the dangers faced by approximately 1,000,000 RV owners.

Those are the facts.

Thank you.
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:21 PM   #7
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THANK YOU for taking the time to post such frank, detailed and accurate information regarding this Class Action suit.

These FACTS should dispel what many naysayers have been claiming for years about Norcold fires and their persistent claims that people like you and I and many others are simply "fear mongers". There are two members in particular (no names provided but they know who they are) who ALWAYS have to post with their BS about the lack of facts. Well, guys, here you go. Hate to burst your bubble but it is now official, stated under oath and in a court of law.

I did not have a fire, thank GOD, nor did I have any cooling unit failure. The POS just didn't work up to my expectations and caused thousands of dollars worth of spoiled food and many more dollars spent trying to make it work.

I now have a beautiful residential fridge that keeps ALL of our food at the proper temperatures.

For those that still have a RV fridge, if your freezer is not 0F or below it is not a freezer. And if the fridge does not keep your food between 35F and 38F then your food is not kept at a safe temperature and it could breed bacteria and spoil.

If you think that a freezer sitting at 20F and a fridge sitting at 45F is doing the job for you, well you are only kidding yourself.

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Old 09-22-2014, 08:04 PM   #8
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What is the proposed settlement?? What proposed relief is there for current owners whose refers have not failed YET??
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:31 PM   #9
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great info: as many on this forum know I am also one of the victims with a burned up tiffin phaeton. We and state farm are still fighting norcold for restitution. Ours burned up at 2am sept 2013 in a campground in Ky and yes the recall had been done.
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Old 09-22-2014, 09:10 PM   #10
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What is the proposed settlement?? What proposed relief is there for current owners whose refers have not failed YET??
I am not an attorney, so my evaluation should be taken from that perspective.

We were represented by three firms in this case. Two of them formulated the current proposed settlement - which I and numerous other plaintiffs are opposed to on a variety of grounds, mostly over the fact that the settlement does nothing to alleviate the danger faced by owners of these units. The third attorney (and he is the one that originated this case, and has previously tried / resolved / settled multiple individual cases against Norcold for these fires) objects strenuously to the proposed settlement and has filed those objections with the Court.

Out of the $33 million settlement, $8.2 million will go to the attorneys, and $2.5 will go to administrative expenses associated with the administration of the "proposed" class action settlement (e.g. 33%).

Our of the balance the numbers have been very convienently presented from a number of perspectives. Originally this suit was filed in 12 states for N6, N8 and N12 units. The defendant (Norcold, et al...) demanded that the settlement be expanded to ALL 50 states and ALL Norcold owners (N6, N8 and N12). However, they then manipulated the numbers involved by limiting the N6 and N8 eligibility to those manufactured after 1/1/2009, thus elimiating more than half of the people. They also manipulated the dates on the N12 units to after 1/1/2002, thus also eliminating a significant portion of the class.

The attorneys in conjunction with the defense attorneys have created several different classes of people, generally:

N12 owners who had a failure - 25 shares of the settlement
N12 owners who had no failure - 1 share of the settlement
N6 and N8 owners - 3 shares of the settlement

The value of a share will depend on the number of Norcold owners who Opt-In to the settlement. The more that join in, the less the value of each share.

However, the result is that ALL owners will remain the owners of a product with a defective design that may at some point in the future leak, rupture, explode and / or catch on fire.

If I were the owner of a N6 or N8 unit, I would be very angry over this due to the fact that if a unit ruptures, or catches on fire, their losses are no less significant to them than the owners of the N12 units. Additionally, the cost of replacement of a N12 cooling unit is not 833% higher than those of a N6 or N8 unit. Additionally, while giving up their rights by giving Norcold nationwide relief, owners of N6 and N8 units manufactured prior to 1/1/2009 will get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Those owners with units manufactured after that date will get a very questionable extended warranty - that appears essentially to be almost worthless.

None of the named plaintiffs (at least the ones that I know and have corresponded with) got into this case for significant financial gain. We all were greatly offended by Norcold's corporate actions regarding the problems that we individually encountered and their total lack of supporting their clients (us) in a manner that one would expect.

We all entered this litigation because we felt a moral imperative in the fact that we believed / knew that there were potentially many fellow RV'ers who were in danger of significant property loss, physical injury, or death, and we were compelled to take a stand and say "This has got to stop!"

We all bought our RV's with the intent of being able to travel, use and enjoy them. None of us envisioned that we would be forced to spend more than two years of our lives conducting a battle regarding these issues. But we all felt that it was imperative that someone stand up and see the truth of this situation exposed to the light of day.

We are opposed to this settlement specifically because we believe that it continues to leave a significant population of RV owners (knowingly and unknowingly) at danger and risk.

There is a "fairness hearing" scheduled for October 10th, 2014 in this case where the two firms pushing this settlement (and the defendants, of course, because they LOVE the settlement) will be attempting to get the court to accept it and move forward. I believe that potential class members have the right to file documents indicating their support, or opposition to the proposed settlement.
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Old 09-22-2014, 09:21 PM   #11
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great info: as many on this forum know I am also one of the victims with a burned up tiffin phaeton. We and state farm are still fighting norcold for restitution. Ours burned up at 2am sept 2013 in a campground in Ky and yes the recall had been done.
I have talked to numerous Norcold owners who faced similar situations to what you encountered. Many of them lost tens of thousands of dollars between what they owed on their RV's and what the insurance company settled for. One that I spoke to ended owing more than $70,000 to the bank after the settlement with the insurance company and Norcold walked away and left them holding the bag.

That is one of the problems that many of the objecting plaintiffs in this case have, as Norcold is settling individual claims with "some" of the named plaintiffs, which of course through a clever quid pro quo (e.g. - accept this lousy settlement and we'll pay you the money you lost) have gotten the acceptance of people that were diametrically opposed to the terms, but are compelled to accept the settlement for personal reasons. Sorry, but that is wrong, in my humble opinion, as are many additional elements of this
settlement.
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Old 09-22-2014, 10:12 PM   #12
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JLE,
Very interesting write up. Thanks for sharing this with us. I am one of those who inherently knew that I wanted to get the Norcold cooling unit out of my coach, which is why I purchased an Amish cooling unit. I gave a critical review of it earlier.
The main thing I understand that the builders of the Amish unit did was use heavier tubing. I have no idea what alloy. I have wondered why someone didn't put together one of these made out of the appropriate grade of stainless steel, since is seems that corrosion is the real problem here. The heavier gauge tubing also doesn't solve the problem. It merely delays it.
Good luck to you and the other plaintiffs. I hope you get what you want.
Regards,
Roy
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Old 09-23-2014, 02:28 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by JLE Seminole View Post
First, there is NO SETTLEMENT at this time. There is a highly controversial PROPOSED SETTLEMENT that has not been ruled on by the Court. Additionally, there is also a Motion of Objection from a significant portion of the named plaintiff’s in this case who formally object in total to this settlement as being inadequate, unfair and that it does nothing to protect the 1,000,000 owners of these Norcold units which are contended to be defective in design and manufacturer.

For what it is worth, I am the named plaintiff in this lawsuit. I have personally been involved with every aspect of the lawsuit since the day that my SECOND Norcold refrigerator ruptured and became defective (the first exploded and caught on fire). I have provided documentation, sworn testimony and personally reviewed every document filed in this lawsuit. I quite literally have spent hundreds of hours researching these issues, reviewing evidence submitted by the defendants and speaking with many other Norcold owners across the United States who have experienced similar problems.

I have seen many comments on these forums regarding the issues, many of them totally uninformed and a lot of them providing highly incorrect “opinions” presented to be “facts”. The aren’t facts, and they are wrong. As a result, I thought it was time to set some of the issues straight, and the best way to do so is thorough the actual pleadings in this case with specific quotations from depositions provided by direct Norcold employees, as well as expert witnesses qualified to testify on the real “facts” concerning these defects.

Below are facts and issues at law currently being litigated against Norcold, Thetford and the private equity firm that owns them – DKM (Dyson Kissner Moran Corporation). Specific admissions are documented from depositions from Norcold employees, expert witnesses, and more. The comment below in RED are mine and they are presented as highly informed opinions based upon the evidence in this case.


From the Class Certification Motion filed on February 28, 2014
Etter v Norcold, et al…

Case 8:13-cv-00081-HLS-R NB Document 100 – Filed 2/28/14

These are the named plaintiff’s main contentions in this case:

In fact, consistent with their long history of concealment, Defendants simply chose not to address Plaintiffs’ class claims that: (1) the true defect is that Defendants’ cooling unit’s boiler tubes have a premature corrosion problem that causes them to develop holes and leak flammable gas; (2) any retrofit device installed does not fix that defect or do anything to stop the leaks; (3) the risk of leaks and dangerous fires remains even after the installation of any retrofit; and, (4) these facts have been uniformly concealed from the class, having been classified by Defendants as “confidential” materials that “Norcold does not disclose to the public.”

The common defect at issue in this case is that the cooling unit’s boiler tubes have the propensity to corrode prematurely and leak. A result of the defect is that flammable gas escapes from the breach, near a heat source, creating a dangerous fire risk. But if a leak occurs, regardless of whether it results in a fire, the cooling unit is still completely destroyed and in need of complete replacement. While Defendants’ “experts” nonchalantly offer that a “leak is just a leak,” they ignore the critical fact that once a leak occurs, like a balloon with a pinhole or a Coke bottle with a crack, the pressurized unit is completely destroyed and a replacement is needed – at a substantial cost to the consumer. Compare Doc. 75 with Klein Dep. at 84 (Ex. 3). This defect has never been “repaired” as part of any recall. Thus, leaks and fires continue to occur, even in units retrofitted with the latest High Temperature Sensor (“HTS”), because as Defendants admit, the HTS was never designed to stop leaks.

Expert witness testimony, as well as the testimony of numerous Norcold employees, have shown that the High Temperature Sensor Recall Kits DO NOT fix the dangerous defects present in the Norcold Cooling units. These Recall Kits are band aids that do not work as has been documented by the FACT that Norcold refrigerator units continue to rupture, leak, explode and catch on fire AFTER THE RECALL KITS HAVE BEEN INSTALLED.

Klein Dep. at 20, 248-49, 267-68. Defendants’ own Incident Log, Incident Files and Warranty Log all show that leaks continue to be reported in 6, 8 and 1200 series refrigerators even after Defendants’ recalls and purported “fixes.” Layson Decl. 7 and Ex. B (showing examples of fires in 6, 8 and 1200 series units continuing through 2013); Keifer Decl. 9-12 and Ex. H, I. See 2nd Beard Decl. 8-12. While Defendants try to downplay the number of leaks and fires, their contention is contradicted and their purported statistical calculations are unsupported and unreliable. Id. In all, there have been over 2,500 fires and thousands more leaks reported. Id. And those figures are conservative as not all leaks and fires are reported to Defendants and recorded in their Incident and Warranty Logs.


Defendants retained several engineering firms (University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), Metallurgical Solutions, Inc. (MSI), and Crane Engineering), to evaluate the issue. All concluded that a defect existed which caused the boiler tubes to leak. Cutright Dep. at 138 (Ex. 6) (“It showed that the boilers had suffered corrosion and the leaks were caused by the corrosion”).1 In turn, Defendants’ own contractors and engineers reported the existence of a common defect to Defendants’ Executive Committee in a series of presentations in 2010. Those presentations reported that the “Cause of Boiler Failure” was “Pitting from corrosion causes leak in boiler area.” PowerPoint Presentation, August 2010 (NRC 000307)(Ex. 12). See also PowerPoint Presentation, June 2010 (NRC 000261)(“Corrosion inhibitor (Chromate) consumed and no longer protects steel tube. Pitting from corrosion will provide source for leak or weakness in tube. Confirmed by analysis at Crane Engineering and MSI.”)(Ex. 14). 2 Due to the common defect identified, in October 2010 Defendants made a decision to recall all 1200 series refrigerators manufactured since 1996 and have them retrofitted with a common device - the HTS. Defendants sent standard-form recall notices to all owners of 1200 series refrigerators reporting the existence of a common “defect” and their right to a “repair” and “remedy,” regardless of the unit’s purchase date or the owner’s state of residence. The problem, however, is that the HTS does not “fix” the defect that causes the leaks. To actually fix the corrosion problem, the engineering firms that Defendants retained proposed replacing the boiler tubes with those made of a different material or thickness or a different boiler system. 3 Defendants, however, chose not to implement these changes and instead, 1 Klein Dep. at 434 (“As indicated in the MSI report, we were receiving corrosion on the inside of the boiler, which led to pitting and cracking on the inside.”); Cutright Dep. at 148 (“MSI identified corrosion could create a leak condition in the boiler.”), 155 (“Q. And did Crane Engineering come back and confirm that MSI had gotten it right? A. Yes.), 158-160, 300-301 (“The corrosion was the cause of the leak.”); MSI Report, May 2010 at p. 1 (“Four samples were submitted for evaluation. The samples failed while in service...Pitting was found on all samples along the inner diameter...Pitting corrosion was the primary mode of failure for this sample.”). Despite repeated requests, Defendants have refused to provide numerous materials in discovery including documents exchanged with Crane Engineering, as well as the reports of expert witnesses from other litigation which address the common defects. 2nd Beard Decl. 11. See PowerPoint Presentation, August 19, 2010 (“Option #1 for New Production:...Redesign boiler to reduce consumption of chromate and therefore reduce corrosion...Increase wall thickness of boiler tubing to provide additional strength and increase time to leak from corrosion.”); PowerPoint Presentation, July 21, 2010 (NRC 000271)(Ex. 32)(“Solution: Increase wall thickness of boiler tubing.”); erPoint Presentation, June 22, 2010 (NRC 000263-265)(“Solution: Slow Chromate consumption by redesign of boiler system.”); UDRI Report, Failure Investigation of a Generator Tube, February 2005)(“A material substitution for the generator tube might be considered. Creep resistant materials include austenitic stainless steel and ferritic steels having higher chromium or molybdenum contents.”)(Keifer Decl., Ex. G).

Sodium chromate (Sodium chromate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) is a KNOWN CANCER CAUSING AGENT and it is one of the ingredients in the gases present in a Norcold cooling unit. If you look on some of the RV fourms you will see on at least one thread where someone with a brand new 2014 Norcold saw stuff leaking down their absorber coils – and it was suggested that he sniff it and see if it smelled like ammonia. It was in fact most likely sodium chromate, which is what leaks out of a blown boiler, and should most definitely NOT be inhaled under any circumstances. This is something that should definitely be made clear to Norcold owners, so that people who are doing their annual "maintenance" know what the hell to stay away from. Additionally, if you are on your RV when your cooling unit / boiler ruptures, there is a chance that you will be inhaling this CANCER CAUSING AGENT (NOTE – how many posts have you seen where people stated that they “smelled’ ammonia in their coach when their cooling unit failed?)


This assertion is highly misleading as it conflicts directly with these same witnesses’ prior testimony, which makes clear that leaks and fires continue to occur in cooling units even after they have been retrofitted with the HTS.

Q. With respect to the HTS, though, is it accurate to say that the HTS retrofit does not stop the cooling unit from leaking?

A. Yes.

Cutright Dep. at 213-214.

This is from a deposition from a Norcold employee that ADMITS that their High Temperature Sensok kit DOES NOT fix the problem.

Q. Is it correct that Norcold has continued to experience 1200 series fires in units equipped with the latest high temperature sensor?

A. That is correct.

Klein Dep. at 466-67. See also Cutright Dep. at 221; Klein Dep. at 188, 280, 285-286, 456, 460; Harris Dep. at 124, 147,152-153, 172 (Ex 4); Strasburg Dep. at 37-39, 47, 89, 90-96 (Ex. 2). Defendants and their purported experts completely gloss over these admissions. As Mr. Klein confirmed “we could not stop the corrosion”...“there is no way to shut that off or stop that.” Klein Dep. at 460-461, 464-467. Klein went on to testify that while Defendants were working to address the problem by redesigning newly manufactured refrigerators to have thicker boiler tubes, the same changes have never been offered to owners of existing units. While Defendants would like the Court to believe that the defect has been completely fixed, they offer no explanation for the fact that leaks and fires continue to be reported in 6, 8 and 1200 series units through the present. Strasburg Dep. at 93-96:

Q. Now, my understanding, from talking with Mr. Klein and from talking with Mr. Roberts, is that the consistent problem with the 1200 series refrigerator, in particular, the N6 and N8 a little less, but the 1200 in particular, is that the boiler tube cracks and leaks, and when that happens, it releases flammable gas that is ignited by the heaters and starts a fire, that that’s been the consistent problem for the last decade. Is that accurate?

A. Yes.

Plaintiff Ray Rolle is a good example. While Mr. Rolle had had the HTS installed on his Norcold refrigerator, it still leaked, caught fire and destroyed his RV in late 2012. Norcold’s own fire investigator examined the RV and concluded that a leak existed and the HTS had been installed. See Report, Indep. Fire Consulting, February 2013 (Etter_7488_Green_211-212) (Ex. 33)(“Copious amount of leak detection solution applied to the boiler section revealed a leak.” Close examination reveals the HTS is installed correctly according to instruction.”). Obviously, despite having the HTS installed, the defect was never “fixed” and a safety risk continued to exist. Norcold elected to only give owners of existing 1200 units a low-cost retrofit – the HTS. But again, the problem with the HTS is that the HTS does nothing to address the actual defect which causes the leaks. Id. Instead, the HTS is designed to only react to situations where excessive temperatures develop, after a leak has already occurred. And even then the HTS does not stop all fires. Thus, to call the so-called “repair” proposed by Defendants anything close to being a complete “fix” of the common defect is a fallacy - the same risk of a debilitating leak remains with or without the HTS.

Some people on these forums want to call into question the number of fires that have been reported. Well, the number of fires reported are actually from Norcold’s own incident logs that were discovered in depositions. These reports are FIRES, not failures of the cooling units. There are THOSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of additional cooling units that have ruptured and exploded, and not resulted in fires, but have resulted in thousands of dollars worth of repairs to the owners.

Additionally, the estimates are that there have been hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property losses as a results of these failures. In addition to having their RV’s burn to the ground, owners have lost their garages and their homes as a result of these fires. Numerous people have been injured as a result of these Norcold refrigerator fires and AT LEAST ONE HAS DIED (See story - http://www.marylandinjurylawyerblog.com/2006/07/7_million_products_liability_s.html).

The combination of the insufficient boiler tubing thickness and the corrosive materials used in the chemical solutions cause the boilers to fail over time. There are in excess of 1,000,000 of these defective boilers currently in use in RV’s all across the United States and Canada. One of them may be parked next to you the next time you are out on your RV. Check out this YouTube video - RV fire/explosion at West Biloxi RV park - YouTube. How would you like to have this RV parked next to yours in the middle of the night? How would you like to have your grandchild sleep on the sofa bed located directly next to this refrigerator?

A group of people at great personal costs to themselves in terms of time and energy have spent two and a half years to attempt to rectify this situation on behalf of almost 1,000,000 people they will never meet – such as yourselves. We have travelled across the country to be deposed. Spent hours collecting, copying, scanning documents to be entered into evidence.

Unfortunately two of the firms involved in this case have constructed a settlement in this case which is a lousy settlement that is objected to by a sizeable number of the named plaintiffs – not because of the amount of money involved in the settlement, but because it leaves hundreds of thousands of people at risk of property loss, personal injury, and potentially death. We are now formally objecting to the settlement that has been proposed as being inadequate, unfair and the biggest problem, that it fails to address and resolve the dangers faced by approximately 1,000,000 RV owners.

Those are the facts.

Thank you.
Thank you JLE. Your input clears up a lot of misconception. But I do have one question. Rumor has it that some of these Norcold units actually caught on fire. I heard rumors about some horrible rv fires. Is this true??


1979 Dodge Tioga Class C 24 foot. 1987 Fleetwood Bounder 34 Foot.
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Old 09-23-2014, 02:44 PM   #14
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Than the answer is yes. My worst fears are confirmed. I will never buy a Norcold product as long as I live. I suggest anyone who is having trouble with their Norcold fridge. Take it back. It's to dangerous to think you can fix a major fire hazard. Over seas manufacturing instead of keeping our jobs at home and this is what we get.


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