A settlement worth $18 million has been reached in a class action lawsuit alleging that Sloan Valve Company sold defective pressurized flushing mechanisms that could cause toilets to explode. People who owned or previously owned toilets equipped with the Flushmate system will receive a cash payment as a result of the settlement. If approved, the settlement will resolve five federal class action lawsuits. The Flushmate is also the subject of a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recall that provided free repair kits to owners who asked for them.
According to the original complaint filed in 2012, the Series 503 Flushmate III Pressure-Assist Flushing System by Sloan used a pressurized tank made of two plastic halves that could separate under pressure, causing leaks, and in some situations, explosions. The pressurized tank can explode with enough force that it shatters the porcelain tank, according to the settlement document. The CPSC says 304 of the Flushmate units made between 1997 and 2008 have exploded during use, injuring 14 people. 2,330,600 Flushmate systems, including those installed in American Standard, Kohler and other brands of toilets, are subject to the CPSC’s recall. The company became aware of the Flushmate System defect as early as June 2000, but continued to sell the toilet without disclosing the defect or risk, the class action lawsuit says.
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One of the victims, who was 26 when his toilet exploded in 2011, said his Flushmate system “exploded and severely cut my back,” according to the CPSC website. He went on to say “Had it been my grandmother our one of my nieces and nephews who happened to use the toilet that day, the consequences could have been severe. I required dozens of stitches for an extremely deep wound because of the exploding porcelain.”
“The Flushmate System uses a vessel that traps air, and as the vessel fills with water, it uses the water supply line pressure to compress the trapped air inside. The compressed air forces the water into the toilet bowl, and instead of the ‘pulling’ or siphon action of a gravity unit, the pressure-assist unit ‘pushes’ waste out,” the class action lawsuit explains.
According to the settlement agreement, “The cash payments available under the settlement will fairly and substantially reimburse Settlement Class Members for expenses related to the repair or replacement of their Flushmate toilets.” Members of the class include anyone who owned a Flushmate system or a Flushmate toilet in the U.S. between October 14, 1997 and June 30, 2009. To be eligible for a cash payment, owner must also have installed a repair kit as part of the CPSC recall, have installed a replacement toilet, and/or sustained property damage caused by the Flushmate system. Owners should receive $50 for one Flushmate toilet, and an additional $25 for other Flushmate toilets installed in their home. Owners whose toilet fixtures were shattered or suffered other property damage from a Flushmate system will be eligible to be reimbursed for expenses, provided they can provide receipts and have not already been reimbursed by another source. Directions on how to file a claim for reimbursement are not yet available.