A Kelowna woman has filed a class action lawsuit against Whirlpool in B.C. Supreme Court, alleging the company’s dishwashers are dangerously defective.
In her notice of civil claim, Natalie Bickert says her dishwasher ignited on Dec. 11, 2012, filling her house with smoke and sending her to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.
"It was a terrifying experience," Bickert said in a written statement. "I had no idea that my dishwasher was a fire hazard."
"After the blaze, I started researching this product on the internet, and I found out that many other people across North America have had the same problem.
"This makes me angry. The company should recall or repair the dishwashers, and they should warn consumers. I don't want anyone else in Canada to be hurt or maybe even killed by this product."
Whirlpool spokesperson Kris Vernier issued a statement Tuesday, saying the company is in the process of reviewing the complaint.
"We evaluate every report that is brought to our attention and share the results with the appropriate government safety agencies, including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety in the United States and the Ontario Electrical Safety Authority, and Health Canada in Canada," the statement reads in part.
"We will continue to monitor the safety performance of our dishwashers and work closely with those agencies."
Bickert's lawyer Douglas Lennox of the firm Klein Lyons says his research suggests there may have been as many as 600 similar fires across North America.
"We are talking about a pervasive problem, and in Ms. Bickert's case she is lucky to be alive."
Lennox is seeking to certify the case as a class action lawsuit. He's chosen B.C. because under the Consumer Protection Act he can seek an injunction ordering the recall of dishwashers.
Lennox says the case has the potential to see thousands of Whirlpool-manufactured dishwashers — including KitchenAid and Kenmore — recalled.
"This is a lawsuit that doesn't have to be about money at all," he said. "It's about fixing the problem."
None of the allegations have been proven in court.