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"Recall Alerts"

05-12-2003

Published by:
Peter A. Lynch, Esq.
of Cozen O'Connor
palynch@cozen.com
http://www.cozen.com

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:      This weekly newsletter covers:

  1. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Warns Consumers to Replace Star ME-1 Dry Fire Sprinklers Made By Sprinkler Corporation of Milwaukee; Administrative Lawsuit Settled, Firm Financially Unable to Conduct Recall
  2. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American Househould, Inc. (Formerly Sunbeam Corp.) Announce Recall of Star ME-1 Dry Fire Sprinklers, Administrative Lawsuit Settlement


(1) CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION (CPSC) WARNS CONSUMERS TO REPLACE STAR ME-1 DRY FIRE SPRINKLERS MADE BY SPRINKLER CORPORATION OF MILWAUKEE; ADMINISTRATIVE LAWSUIT SETTLED, FIRM FINANCIALLY UNABLE TO CONDUCT RECALL

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers regarding approximately 400,000 Star ME-1 dry fire sprinklers manufactured from 1983 through 1995 by Sprinkler Corporation of Milwaukee, Inc. (SCM), formerly known as Star Sprinkler Corporation. CPSC warns that these sprinklers present a safety risk and should immediately be replaced. This warning follows the resolution of an administrative proceeding filed by CPSC on October 9, 2001, in which CPSC alleged these sprinklers are defective and are likely to fail to operate in a fire, thereby exposing consumers to the risk of death or serious injury. CPSC reports that samples of Star ME-1 dry sprinklers removed from several locations and tested by independent testing laboratories did not operate as intended. CPSC has received reports of two failures involving Star ME-1 dry sprinklers. One report involved a 1976 sprinkler, and the other, sprinklers installed in 1990.

Because SCM is no longer in operation and has no assets, it is unable to conduct a recall, so no free replacement or refund is available for its sprinklers. Nevertheless, SCM urges building owners to follow CPSC guidance by inspecting the sprinkler systems in their buildings and replacing any Star ME-1 fire sprinklers manufactured from 1983 through 1995.

SCM's Star ME-1 sprinklers have the following information molded onto the sprinkler: the name "Star," the designation "ME-1," and the year of manufacture starting with 1983 and ending with 1995. These sprinklers were typically installed in areas of buildings where the sprinklers or water supply pipes may be subject to freezing. Examples of such areas include unheated attics, freezers and coolers, porches and parking garages. The types of facilities in which the sprinklers were installed include nursing homes, convalescent and long-term care facilities, supermarkets and other stores, warehouses, hospitals, and office buildings.

Replacing these sprinklers also complies with the requirements of the recently revised "National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems." Specifically, NFPA 25 now advises that all dry sprinklers that have been in service for 10 years or more should be immediately replaced or tested. Star ME-1 fire sprinklers produced before 1994 are specifically subject to this requirement. Although not subject to the revised standard, Star ME-1 fire sprinklers produced from 1994 through 1995 also should be replaced because, according to CPSC, over time, they can cease to operate effectively in a fire.

For more information about testing and replacing dry type fire sprinklers, visit NFPA's Web site at www.nfsa.org. For more information on the SCM Star ME-1 fire sprinklers, call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638- 2772 or visit the National Fire Sprinkler Association's Web site at www.nfsa.org

This notice applies only to Star ME-1 fire sprinklers with manufacturing dates from 1983 through 1995. The following firms are recalling Star ME-1 fire sprinklers produced before 1983 and after 1995. Further information can be found by contacting the recalling firms: 1961-1976 - Mealane Corporation at (800) 866-7807 or www.star-recall.com

1977-1982 - American Household Inc. (formerly Sunbeam Corp.) at (888) 551-5014 or www.starme1recall.com

1996-1998 - Central Sprinkler Company (800) 866-3492 or www.SprinklerReplacement.com

The CPSC point of contact is Ken Giles, release number 03-117, (301) 504-7908. The notice issued by the CPSC can be viewed at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml03/03117.html


(2) CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION (CPSC) AND AMERICAN HOUSEHOULD, INC. (FORMERLY SUNBEAM CORP.) ANNOUNCE RECALL OF STAR ME-1 DRY FIRE SPRINKLERS, ADMINISTRATIVE LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American Household Inc. (AHI), formerly known as Sunbeam Corporation, of Boca Raton, Florida, announced the nationwide recall of about 60,000 Star ME-1 dry fire sprinklers. Chemetron Corporation, an inactive subsidiary of AHI, manufactured these sprinklers from 1977 through 1982. This recall announcement follows the resolution of an administrative proceeding filed by CPSC on October 9, 2001, in which CPSC alleged these sprinklers are defective and are likely to fail to operate in a fire, thereby exposing consumers to the risk of death or serious injury.

CPSC reports that samples of Star ME-1 sprinklers removed from several locations and tested by independent testing laboratories did not operate as intended. Although there have been no reports that Star ME-1 dry sprinklers manufactured by Chemetron Corporation have failed to operate while in use, CPSC has received reports of two failures involving Star ME-1 dry sprinklers manufactured by other companies. One report involved a 1976 sprinkler, and the other, sprinklers installed in 1990.

Chemetron's Star ME-1 sprinklers have the following information molded onto the sprinkler: the name "Star," the designation "ME-1," and the year of manufacture, starting with 1977 and ending with 1982. These sprinklers were typically installed in areas of buildings where the sprinklers or water supply pipes may be subject to freezing. Examples of such areas include unheated attics, freezers and coolers, porches, and parking garages. The types of facilities in which the sprinklers were installed include nursing homes, convalescent and long-term care facilities, supermarkets and other stores, warehouses, hospitals, and office buildings.

Although Sunbeam Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2001, AHI has agreed to pay up to $1 million to assist in the replacement of the Star ME-1 dry sprinklers that Chemetron manufactured from 1977 through 1982.

To receive payment for sprinkler replacement, consumers must follow specific procedures and must submit claims by September 29, 2005. For more information, consumers should call (888) 551-5014 toll-free anytime or visit the recall Web site at www.starme1recall.com CPSC previously announced that Mealane Corporation voluntarily agreed to recall Star ME-1 sprinklers manufactured from 1961 through 1976 and Central Sprinkler Company voluntarily agreed to replace Star ME-1 fire sprinklers manufactured from 1996 through 1998. The Sprinkler Corporation of Milwaukee, which manufactured Star ME-1 sprinklers from 1983 through 1995, has no assets with which to fund a recall, but is issuing a safety notice warning building owners to replace these sprinklers.

The CPSC point of contact is Ken Giles, release number 03-116, (301) 504-7908. The notice issued by the CPSC can be viewed at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml03/03116.html

DISCLAIMER: This column is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information contained in this update is general in nature. Individual situations of readers may not fit the general educational information described in the column. Readers are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney to evaluate individual situations and provide legal advice. Any reliance on the information contained herein is taken at the reader's own risk and should not be considered legal advice.

Mr. Lynch can be reached at Cozen and O'Connor, 501 West Broadway, Suite 1610, San Diego, California 92101, 800-782-3366 (voice), 619-234-7831 (fax), palynch@cozen.com (e-mail), http://www.cozen.com. Follow us on Twitter at @firesandrain.

Please direct comments, suggestions, stories, and other items to the author by e-mail at palynch@cozen.com

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