Stutman Law recently made a significant recovery following a fire in Orange County, California that originated in a 12-year-old gas dryer. We received the referral the day after the fire occurred and quickly moved to secure the scene and begin an investigation. Our experts ultimately concluded that the dryer’s burner assembly was defective and allowed hot gases to escape from the burner while the dryer was in use, igniting lint that had accumulated within the interior of the dryer’s cabinet. The dryer’s manual did not instruct users to clean the cabinet interior. Moreover, the dryer’s thermal cutoff failed to deenergize the dryer when the lint was ignited and internal temperatures increased to unsafe levels.
The dryer’s manufacturer was not willing to resolve the claim pre-suit, arguing, among other things, that first responders had unintentionally spoliated evidence by moving the dryer during firefighting efforts, thereby disrupting the internal components of the burner housing assembly. The manufacturer also contended that the insured’s creative venting system, which extended around three walls of the laundry room before exiting the home, had caused or contributed to the fire. Stutman Law filed suit and aggressively litigated a lawsuit against the dryer’s manufacturer, asserting claims for strict products liability and negligence. Faced with Stutman Law’s efforts to move the case forward to trial, the manufacturer finally began meaningful negotiations and we were able to favorably resolve the matter for $395,000.