A/C company sues supplier for selling units with faulty coils

Kelly Holleran Sep. 23, 2009, 8:51pm

A Jefferson County air conditioning company claims it has been supplied with units containing defective coils.

Rutty and Morris filed a lawsuit Sept. 17 in Jefferson County District Court against Johnson Controls Inc., The Coleman Co. doing business as Coleman Heating and Air Conditioning Services and Johnstone Supply Inc. doing business as Johnstone Supply.

Rutty and Morris, a company that primarily installs heating and air conditioning systems throughout southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, claims it has spent more than $400,000 attempting to fix defective coils in Coleman units.

According to the complaint, Rutty and Morris began as a company that installed a variety of heating and air conditioning units, but later decided to primarily sell Coleman units so it could be identified as the "premier Coleman dealer" in southeast Texas.

Since its inception, Rutty and Morris has installed at least 500 Coleman units, but has now learned that coils inside the units are defective, the suit states.

Even replacement coils sent to Rutty and Morris by Coleman do not properly work, the company alleges.

The suit claims the defective coils cause condensation to accumulate, which then causes water damage to the unit and the property. In addition, units deemed high efficiency operate inefficiently and substantially increase consumers' utility bills because of the defective coils, Rutty Morris claims.

According to the complaint, Rutty and Morris have spent more than $400,000 in out-of-pocket expenses to fix the coils and keep their customers satisfied.

The plaintiff claims that Coleman is aware of the faulty coils but continues to sell the units containing the coils and continues to send replacement coils that are also defective.

Rutty and Morris have demanded that Coleman replace the defective units, or at least the flawed components in the units, but the company has only replaced a "hand full," the complaint says.

In addition, Coleman has attempted to induce Rutty and Morris to misrepresent the units' problems to customers, Rutty and Morris allege.

In addition to its out-of-pocket expenses, Rutty and Morris claims it has suffered damages to its business reputation.

Johnson Controls, which is the parent company of Coleman, and Johnstone Sales, which is the authorized distributor of Coleman, are also named as defendants.

Rutty and Morris allege breach of contract, fraud, civil conspiracy, breach of warranty and negligence against the defendants.

It is seeking exemplary and punitive damages, plus attorney's fees, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest rate and other relief to which it may be entitled.

It will be represented by James E. Wimberley of McPherson, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberley, Steele and Chatelain in Port Arthur.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: D184-946.

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