Relatives of a man killed in the Van Nuys home he leased are suing Kenmore Appliances, alleging a defect in a stove bought by the landlord caused it to explode and kill the tenant in 2021.
The Van Nuys Superior Court lawsuit stems from the death of Michael Stephen Sexton, who allegedly was trying to ignite a Kenmore Elite gas range when a gas leak caused and/or contributed to by defective component parts caused a fire and explosion that killed the 73-year-old man on Feb. 5, 2021.
The plaintiffs are Ryan Stephen Beltz and Rachael Marie Beltz, the son and daughter, respectively, of the decedent.
The suit, which includes a color photo of the heavily damaged home on Murrieta Avenue, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
A Kenmore Appliances representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit brought Monday.
Kenmore failed to make the stove free of danger, to warn consumers of the product’s dangers and to lessen the chance of harm with a safer design, the suit states. Frigidaire and Electrolux Home Products Inc., co-defendants in the suit, often outsource the manufacturing of component parts under the Kenmore brand to plants where labor is inexpensive, regulations are nearly nonexistent and workers’ rights and safety are considered less important than company profits, the suit states.
In addition, the home’s owner did not install fire, smoke, gas and carbon monoxide detectors and shutoff mechanisms that would have prevented Sexton’s death, the suit states.