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Thoughts on class action against GE Electric of alleged defective combined fire/security control panel  
November 4, 2022
Thoughts on class action against GE Electric of alleged defective combined fire/security control panel
          Any thoughts about the class action against GE Electric for the installer dealers?
Dave F
          According to an article by National Electronic Security Alliance [NESA] a disabled veteran in NJ started a class action against GE alleging “dangerous and serious defects, dangers and non-conformities” were present in Interlogix combination-listed burglar and fire alarm system control units”.  The article states “The units named in the suit were manufactured and sold by GE Electric Co., United Technologies Corp., UTC Fire & Security Americas Corp. (doing business as Interlogix) and Carrier Global Corp.”
          I am not technical and can’t comment on the merits of the claim.  It is alleged that if a “data-bus circuit wiring is faulted or shorted during a fire the panel won’t work.  The lawsuit alleges that UL and NFPA prohibit the non-functionality.
          I’ve commented on this before.  I believe the Plaintiff’s expert in the class action is Jeff Zwirn and he has opined on this product as being inherently defective and that UL should not have the product listed for use as intended.  I think UL has rejected the argument and stands by its assessment of the product [but I haven’t verified this]. 
          Dealers should be concerned because they seem to be in the middle.  If they know or even suspect that the product is inherently unsafe then there is a good chance that using the product could be viewed as negligence.  As long as UL continues to stand by its listing it’s likely that a dealer would not be held liable.  However, until there is an adverse court decision on the issue, or a change in UL’s position, the dealer can continue to use the product.  An adverse court decision could be in this class action, but could also already exist in a lawsuit by a customer who suffered a loss and was able to establish that this product failed.  I believe Jeff Zwirn has investigated and tested the product and his argument is certainly compelling and persuasive.  But I am sure that UL and NFPA have support for their position, if it is indeed different than Jeff’s.  The average alarm dealer isn’t a rocket scientist [I actually know of only one, Arthur Kadin, may he rest in peace] so you don’t have to conduct your own study. 
          What I find interesting, and I’m not an expert in class action lawsuits, is the standing issue.  Standing is a legal issue.  The Plaintiff has to have standing, in other words, a real stake in the litigation.  I am not clear what standing this disabled veteran has.  Has he suffered a fire loss because the product didn’t work?  Is he an alarm dealer and now contends he has to remove the product from his customer’s systems?  Has one of his alarm customers suffered a loss and made a claim against him?  I don’t think [and could be wrong] but a mere “Good Samaritan” doesn’t have sufficient standing.
          To further complicate the legal threshold issue, not only must the Plaintiff have standing, but in order for there to be a class action there needs to be a “class”.  Who is the class in this action?  Is it any consumer who has the product installed as part of their alarm system, whether they have suffered a loss or not?  Is it the dealers who installed the product and might have to, or should, replace the product at all customer locations a proper class action? 
          If the panel is susceptible or even prone to fail that may not even be enough for a class action, unless perhaps there are a sufficient number of instances where customers have suffered a loss attributable to the defective product.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301