Dan Singel represented MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Co. and its policyholder, Gary Louris, in a products liability case Louris v. Hunter Fan Co. (Hennepin County District Court, 2008). While the Louris family was away from the home for an extended time during the winter, the thermostat stopped working and the home froze, causing substantial damage. MetLife thereafter initiated a subrogation action against the thermostat manufacturer, Hunter Fan.
This case concerned highly technical electrical engineering issues. Investigation and testing of the thermostat revealed that the thermostat’s microprocessor was powered solely by the battery. Thus, if the battery voltage were to get too low, the thermostat would stop calling for heat from the furnace. The low battery warning system was not intuitive.
At trial, Dan presented evidence that Hunter Fan was aware of the dangers inherent in the design of the thermostat, but Hunter Fan nevertheless proceeded with such a design so that the model could be the lowest priced thermostat on the market. In the middle of the trial, Hunter Fan decided to settle the case on amicable terms.