Consumers in California and Florida have filed a lawsuit alleging that the manufacturers of Norcold brand gas absorption refrigerators used in RVs and boats knowingly sold defective refrigerators that posed a serious fire risk but hid that information from the public and federal regulators, according to a press release from the plaintiff’s attorneys, Zimmerman Reed, PLLP, Minneapolis.

The release states that the class action lawsuit filed Dec. 12 in Orange County, Calif., seeks relief on behalf of all persons who purchased or owned RVs or boats in California and Florida equipped with three models of Norcold-brand gas absorption refrigerators. The complaint names Norcold Inc., Thetford Corp. and Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation (DKM) as defendants.

“Although Norcold has not been officially served with the class action suit, we have in fact received a copy of the court filing as well as a copy of the press release issued by the attorneys who initiated the suit,” Norcold spokesman Larry Weis told RVBUSINESS.com via email on Thursday (Dec. 20). “We’ve referred the matter to our lawyers for review. On its surface, the claims are totally without merit. The suit apparently was filed in the Superior Court of California in Orange County. There’s no indication that a similar suit was filed in Florida.”

The lawsuit alleges that since 1999 Norcold’s refrigerators have caused at least 2,000 fires resulting in millions of dollars in property damage, personal injury and death.

“The refrigerators contain flammable gases under high pressure, including hydrogen,” plaintiffs’ attorneys state in the release. “The gases are heated by electricity or propane to circulate and provide the refrigeration effect. Fires are caused when defects in the refrigerator design release the flammable gases, which can then explosively ignite and spread quickly through the refrigerator compartment and into the passenger area of the RV.”

The lawsuit alleges that the companies knew of the potential fire hazard associated with these refrigerators, yet “tried to conceal and minimize these dangers through a series of limited manufacturer-initiated product safety recalls through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), beginning in 2000.”