It’s a manufacturer’s nightmare: a recall involving up to 2.3 million units of a defective product that’s hurt more than a dozen people and exploded into a $5 million lawsuit. And it’s not one anyone should take sitting down.
Kidding aside, makers and installers of the Flushmate III — a device using air and water pressure to super-power toilet flushes — are in trouble.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in June announced a voluntary recall of the Flushmate III, manufactured by Sloan Valve Co.
The problem: The stored pressure can become too much for the tank structure to bear. The weld seam can give out, which can lift the lid off the tank and even shatter the tank itself.
One user, a 26-year-old man, said he was safely ensconced on the throne when it suddenly exploded.
The man needed dozens of stitches to close deep wounds caused by the shattered porcelain, he told the CPSC.
Lawsuits also have been filed by other consumers for units that failed and leaked, causing property damage and other out-of-pocket costs.
All told, there have been 304 complaints of bursting Flushmates, resulting in at least 14 injuries.
Lawyers say the case may be on its way to achieving class action status.
Flushmate’s response wasn’t necessarily what people wanted to hear.
The company has set up an 800 number and a recall verification web page for consumers to type in their unit’s serial number. It offers to send a free repair kit in the mail — and a Repair Kit Installation Video.
The CPSC’s remedy is more dire: “Immediately” shut off the water supply and stop using the system.
There’s no advice for consumers about what to do next, though.