Lawsuit claims HVAC units are defective

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Apr. 28, 2010, 1:22pm

A Southeast Texas company that sells heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems claims the Coleman units it sold contained defective parts.

Rutty & Morris LLC filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Johnson Controls Inc.; The Coleman Co. Inc., doing business as Coleman Heating & Air Conditioning Services; and Johnstone Supply Inc., doing business as Johnstone Supply.

The suit was originally filed on Sept. 16, 2009, in the 136th District Court of Jefferson County. The case was removed to federal court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division on April 23.

The plaintiff states that it concentrated on selling the Coleman brand in order to be identified as the "premier Coleman dealer" in Southeast Texas. According to the complaint, Rutty & Morris installed around 500 Coleman brand HVAC units in various residential and commercial facilities throughout Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.

However, now Rutty & Morris claims the HVAC units contain, among other problems, a defective coil, and that the replacement coils also being defective. The plaintiff states it would not have sold the products had it known they are defective.

The plaintiff states that the defendant failed to stand behind its products, representations and warranties. The defendants have only agreed to replace a "handful" of defective products and continues to induce the plaintiff into misrepresenting the problem to the plaintiff's customers, the lawsuit states.

Causes of action filed against the defendants include breach of contract, fraud and civil conspiracy, breach of warranty, negligence and negligent misrepresentation.

The plaintiff is asking the court to award a reimbursement of its out-of-pocket expenses, which are in excess of $400,000, and an award for the "substantial damage" to its business reputation.

Rutty & Morris is also seeking attorneys' fees, court costs and interest.

Port Author attorney James E. Wimberley of McPherson, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberley, Steele & Chatelain LLP is representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:10cv00236

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