Ammonia Leak Allegedly Produced by Defective Refrigerator

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on May 12, 2016

Refrigeration ExpertThis claim involves injuries sustained by a hotel guest in Mississippi resulting from ammonia exposure. The guest was allegedly exposed to ammonia due to a malfunction in a defective refrigerator in the room. The guest sustained severe ammonia poisoning as a result, and suffers from a host of complications. An expert was requested to assess the defective refrigerator in question and further explain design considerations which were overlooked in producing the refrigerator.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1.) Have you previously designed / certified small refrigerator / freezer units for use in hotel rooms?
  • 2.) If so, are you familiar with appropriate design standards to ensure no ammonia leaks will result from usage?
  • 3.) Have you / any company you've worked for previously been the target of a negligence claim involving a design defect / ammonia poisoning?
  • 4.) Have you ever served as an expert witness on a case similar to the one described above?
  • 5.) Are you familiar with other incidents of hotel minibar / small refrigerators leaking ammonia, causing serious injury?

Expert Witness Response E-005127

I am not aware of any small refrigerators that would be used in a hotel room that use ammonia as the refrigerant. The ones that I am familiar with all used R-12 or 134a at this time. All of the refrigerators that I have designed have used these working fluids. While the design and safety standards are the same, the smallest refrigerators that I have worked on were typical small household refrigerators. Ammonia is typically used for low temperature commercial refrigeration, not consumer appliances. I have not been the target of any claims involving ammonia. I have served as an expert witness but not involving ammonia. I am unaware of any similar small refrigerator incidents leaking ammonia and causing injury, probably because they do not exist.

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