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September 24, 2012 / Christian Przybylowski

Exploding Toilets Lead to $5 Million Lawsuit

A federal class action lawsuit has been filed alleging that the Flushmate III, a pressurized toilet flushing system, is defective.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of United Desert Charities, a social service organization, and Maralee Pelka, a resident of Las Vegas, after their toilets containing the Flushmate system failed and leaked.  The Flushmate system uses water pressure and compressed air to force water into the bowl and ensuring a sufficiently strong flush.  According to the complaint the flushing system is advertised as reliable, consistent, and trouble-free as well as being easy to maintain and free from leaks.  In fact, the lawsuit alleges, the toilets containing the flushing system are prone to premature failure and leaking.  The leaks cause the vessel holding the pressure inside the Flushmate system to burst, rapidly releasing the stored pressure and causing the toilet to explode.  The shrapnel from the exploding toilet tank poses impact and laceration hazards and can cause property damage.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) over 2.3 million toilets in the US use the Flushmate III flushing system.  The CSPC has received more than 300 reports of the Flushmate bursting and causing the toilet to explode.  Fourteen of those reports involved impact or laceration injuries, including this report of a man who required dozens of stitches to close a deep wound.  (Warning: the report contains links to pictures of the injury that may be too graphic for some.)  In June the CSPC issued a voluntary recall of the Flushmate system.  As part of the recall effort the Sloan Valve Company, makers of the Flushmate system, offered customers a free repair kit.  The repair kit includes a metal band to reduce the likelihood of explosion in the event of a failure, and an external pressure regulator to reduce the pressure supplied to the Flushmate system.

The lawsuit claims that the “repair” kit is inadequate in that it does not help any consumers whose systems have already exploded, requires greater skill to install than the average consumer possesses, and does not address the defects but is only designed to decrease the damage caused when catastrophic failure occurs.  Also some toilets containing the Flushmate system do not have adequate space for installation of the repair kit.

The lawsuit is currently seeking approval to go forward as a class action.  The class would include all people and entities who own American Standard toilets containing the Series 503 Flushmate III system manufactured since 1997, or anyone who had to replace the system.  The lawsuit is seeking at least $5 million in damages from the makers of the Flushmate III.

If you or a loved one has been injured by any other product you believe to be defective, please contact Khorrami, LLP for a confidential evaluation of your rights.

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