State Farm sues Sears over house fire allegedly caused by dryer

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 9, 2012, 11:16am

SHERMAN - An insurance company has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of an electric clothes dryer that allegedly malfunctioned and caused a house fire in Plano.

State Farm Lloyds Insurance Co., as subrogee of Carol Greer, filed suit against Sears Roebuck and Co., Electrolux Home Products Inc. and American Home Shield Corp. on June 22 in Collin County District Court. The defendant removed the case to the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division on Aug. 6.

On Nov. 4, 2010 a fire occurred at the home of Greer located on Kesser Drive in Plano. Approximately 30 minutes before the fire, Greer heard a popping sound coming from the laundry room. When she investigated, she saw smoke coming from the dryer and saw flames coming from inside the dryer through various openings.

The fire caused significant structure and personal property damage. The fire investigator was able to eliminate all other potential ignition sources other than the dryer unit, according to the suit.

The product at issue is a Kenmore Model electric clothes dryer, manufactured and marketed by Electrolux.

According to the lawsuit, an engineer's inspection showed that the fire was caused by a loose screw that fastened the heater pain containing the heating element to the rear of the cabinet. When the heating element shifted, it contacted the metal baffle on the rear of the drum, causing a short circuit.

Defendant Sears was responsible for the installation of the dryer. Defendant American Home was responsible for the maintenance and repair of the dryer and had provided repair services on the dryer recently before the fire.

State Farm is asking for an award of $184,560 for negligence, strict products liability, breach of express and implied warranties. State Farm is also asking for an award of attorney's fees, interest, and court costs.

The plaintiff is represented by N. Scott Carpenter and Craig M. Schumacher of Carpenter & Schumacher P.C. in Plano.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell is assigned to the case.

Case No. 4:12-cv-00490

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