North American appliance maker Equator Appliances announced that it has filed a lawsuit in Harris Country, Houston, TX, U.S. against the giant Italian appliance manufacturer, Indesit Company, previously known as Merloni Electrodomestici.
Equator's petition, filed in May 2005, states that its causes of action stem from a Breach of Contract, Breach of implied warranty, and Interference with its contractual relationships with customers. The lawsuit is for actual damages of U.S.$5 million and does not include prospective damages.
Between the years 1993 and 2002, Equator says it had a long-standing distribution agreement with Philco Italia, which manufactured Equator's signature product, the combination washer-dryer. In September 2003, Merloni acquired Philco Italia. According to Equator, after the acquisition, Merloni changed certain aspects of the units design and manufacture and materially altered many of the components. This caused a failure rate of these previously trouble-free machines to jump significantly, including specific electronic components that caused product failures, electrical shorts, component malfunctions, control-board burn-outs, wiring harness meltdowns, and machines catching fire, Equator claims.
"Equator has filed this lawsuit in the interest of safeguarding our company brand and image, as well as protection of the consumer's interest for product safety," stated Atul Vir, president, Equator Advanced Appliances. "With increasing global trade, we expect this to be a ground-breaking case in international law governing the responsibilities of manufacturers to produce products safe enough for the countries they export to. This case will also determine the resulting liability of reselling agents, irrespective of the brand name the product was marketed under."
Indesit Company is represented by the Houston, TX, U.S.-based international law firm Fulbright & Jaworski. Equator is represented by its long-standing corporate attorney, Steven Barry Frankoff.
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