CHICAGO (CN) – A window treatment company wrongly blamed its battery supplier instead of flaws in its product for motorized blinds overheating and catching on fire, the supplier claims in a lawsuit filed Monday.
Power Cell LLC, doing business under the name Zeus Battery Products, says in its Cook County, Ill., Circuit Court complaint that Springs Window Fashions issued a recall in February for Zeus’ lithium batteries used in SWF’s products “due to fire and burn hazard.”
After receiving customer complaints that blinds were catching on fire and batteries and their cases were overheating, melting and exploding, SWF also sent out a safety alert to retailers concerning the batteries it has purchased from Zeus since 2015. At least one of them, Costco, posted the notice online, Zeus claims.
“SWF has issued a series of public statements, under the smoke screen of its alleged concern for public safety, that are false or materially misleading concerning the safety of lithium batteries supplied by Zeus in SWF’s motorized window covering product,” the lawsuit states.
Zeus says its batteries are perfectly safe and the fault lies with the blinds.
In its own testing of the blinds, Zeus found that the product will still operate if batteries are installed in the wrong direction.
“This is a serious defect in the SWF product. Products should be designed so that they do not operate if batteries are installed the wrong way,” the complaint states. “Such improper, reverse-polarity installation is known, industry-wide, to cause overheating in otherwise conforming batteries and battery manufacturers and suppliers (including Zeus) warn against the risk.” (Parentheses in original.)
The battery supplier also found that the blinds were designed to allow customers to mix lithium and alkaline batteries together, yet another fire risk.
SWF owes Zeus over $400,000 in unpaid invoices and back inventory but is demanding money from Zeus to replace its batteries, according to the complaint.
Zeus, represented by P. Andrew Fleming of Novack and Macey in Chicago, says SWF violated the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
The supplier is asking the court to rule that its batteries are safe and that the product defect lies in SWF’s blinds. Zeus also seeks a retraction and $491,000 plus punitive damages.
SWF did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.