Jon Campisi Apr. 2, 2014, 6:53am


Attorneys representing North Carolina-based Electrolux Home Products

Inc. have removed to federal court a products liability case initiated by a Philadelphia couple who claims their clothes dryer, which was manufactured by the defendant, malfunctioned and caught fire.

Lawyers Cheryl M. Nicolson and Melissa A. Yemma, of the Philadelphia-based Nicolson Law Group, filed a removal petition on behalf of their client on March 31 at U.S. District Court seeking removal of the products liability case from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Gerry and Elizabeth Gutierrez filed suit in state court in late February over claims that a fire ignited in their Frigidaire brand gas clothes dryer made by Electrolux on Dec. 6, 2012.

There had never been any problems with the product before that day, the suit says, and the plaintiffs made sure to maintain the device by regularly cleaning out the lint trap.

Nevertheless, a blaze started in the cabinet of the dryer on Dec. 6, 2012, which resulted in what the complaint calls “severe damage to the real and personal property of Plaintiffs,” and caused the couple to leave their home for a period of time while repairs were made.

The couple says they also incurred other consequential and incidental damages including cleanup costs, repairs and other associated expenses.

The plaintiffs maintain that lint had accumulated inside the dryer and in areas not “observable or accessible” to them, and in close proximity to the heat sources of the dryer, creating an increased risk of fire.

The couple says they incurred expenses in excess of $50,000.

In this week’s removal petition, however, the defense attorneys wrote that the plaintiffs’ counsel has represented that the total damages at issue are $89,249.11, which exceed the amount in controversy necessary to keep the litigation in state court.

“In the interest of judicial economy and the fair adjudication of the claims brought before the court, Petitioner seeks removal to this Court,” the defense attorneys wrote.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs assert claims of strict liability and negligence.

They are being represented by attorneys Raymond E. Mack and Patrick A. Hughes of the Blue Bell, Pa. firm Nelson Levine de Luca & Hamilton.

The state case ID number is 140202869 and the federal case number is 2:14-cv-01887-AB.

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