One year on since a fatal house fire, the government recall 500,000+ Hotpoint Tumble Dryers

Emma Potter, Partner in the Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence Team at Moore Barlow, acted for the family of Mrs Elizabeth Griffin, who tragically passed away following a house fire caused by her defective Hotpoint dishwasher.

The facts surrounding the defective Hotpoint dishwasher

Mrs Griffin suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes and was wheelchair bound. She could mobilise with assistance, but could not move on her own. She lived in a housing association flat and was a subscriber to Wandsworth WATCH Alarms.

On 14 July 2017, she was at home alone in bed when her Hotpoint dishwasher caught fire. Although she pressed the emergency pendant, she was not able to establish contact. The fire brigade was called and although Mrs Griffin was rescued, she sadly passed away due to smoke inhalation.

Evidence revealed that the fire had started at the printed circuit board of the Hotpoint dishwasher. This was a known fault to Whirlpool and the model had been on recall at the time of the fire.

An Inquest took place with numerous interested persons in attendance including Whirlpool (the owner of Hotpoint) being one of the parties giving evidence to HM Coroner. During that process, the HM Coroner made a number of recommendations covering a broad range of issues which included concerns about the length of time between faults being identified and products going on recall and steps to be taken to encourage registration of white goods, such that customers could more effectively be contacted in the event a fault is identified.

Whirlpool responded providing evidence of their procedures and actions that they would be taking. This was last year.

Since then the family has become aware of numerous ongoing safety issues surrounding white goods manufactured by Whirlpool and its associated companies and it is saddening to them to see today that there is another known longstanding safety defect with tumble dryers which has resulted in a product recall. They have put consumers in potential risk of injury. Once again, Whirlpool has been aware of this for a significant number of years.

Consumer safety surrounding white goods should be seen as a priority

There now needs to be a review of the regulatory framework surrounding product safety to allow proactivity on the part of Regulators to intervene if manufacturers do not appear to be taking early action. Firmer sanctions need to be imposed for non compliance so that the safety of consumers of electrical products is taken seriously.

The issue of a recall should be looked into not only in connection with tumble dryers but other white good products such as washing machines and dishwashers where there are known defects.

The family of Mrs Griffin have to live with their loss and they had hoped that out of their tragedy, consumer safety surrounding white goods would be seen as a priority.

If you have any questions about the above or require any further information, please contact the one of the team on 01483 543210.