The consumer market is full of products that are created just to make our lives easier. Even if it’s a small luxury, we still look for gadgets that improve daily living. When you go searching for one of these products marketed to you, you trust that it is safe to use. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
Earlier this month Stelpro Design, Inc. recalled its ASSO and ASSOS Sonoma wall fans due to a potential fire hazard. Stelpro is a Canadian company but their products are sold throughout the United States making them subject to our rules regarding product liability.
What are wall fan heaters and why are they dangerous?
In essence, a wall fan heater is just a different type of space heater used to warm up smaller areas you occupy. Rooms such as bathrooms, garage workshops, and other areas that would cost thousands to have your heating and ventilation system extended into can be heated for just a few hundred dollars or less. They are a fairly inexpensive way to make your home or other space useful or just more comfortable during colder months.
However, with convenience can come danger, which is what several users of Stelpro wall fan heaters learned recently when their heaters overheated, creating a fire hazard. The coils of wall heaters can pose this risk, and if one overheats and ignites, you may wind up with a full structure fire causing the loss of:
- Your home, office, or other building
- Family members
- All of your personal possessions
- The contents of your business
These devices are fitted and installed directly into the wall, which is typically sheetrock and wood with electrical wiring throughout – all flammable materials.
The Stelpro heater problem
According to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, “an internal part of the heater fails to meet flammability performance requirements, posing a fire hazard.” While no fires have been reported thus far, the company has received five reports of overheating in the 3,600 fan units they’ve sold across the United States between March 2018 and December 2019.
The company is offering a free replacement fan; however, the CPSC has posted a pop-up notice on its recall page for the Stelpro wall fan heater stating that, “Due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19, some of the remedies identified in recall press releases may not be available at this time. Consumers should check with recalling firms for further details.”
The rules of product liability
When companies create products, there are steps to the process, including design and manufacturing of the product. Mistakes typically occur during these steps and it’s just a matter of time before the danger is uncovered.
- Design defects created by an engineer are built into the product, and while it may work to serve its purpose, it still poses a danger any time you use it.
- Manufacturing defects happen to a random number of products when they are made, but the flaw makes it dangerous to use as intended.
- Marketing defects provide incorrect information to consumers as to use of the item or safety warnings.
That doesn’t mean the liability ends there. Depending upon each individual case, you may find the seller and any other entity involved in the chain between concept to sale could become responsible. It’s not uncommon for more than one company to become a defendant in a product liability lawsuit.
Consumers are owed a level of safety by product manufacturers when they place their goods on actual or virtual shelves for sale to the general public. It’s an expected guarantee of trust the public places into companies to not put them or their family into danger by bringing products home with them. When that trust is broken and you become injured, you need to seek the advice of a qualified product liability attorney who knows how to fight to make you whole again.
The savvy personal injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP are here for you when you’re ready to hold the manufacturer and others who caused you harm responsible for your injuries. To schedule your free case evaluation we invite you to call our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, or reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.