P.C. Richard & Son sent unlicensed workers to install gas appliances and endangered Long Island consumers paying to get machines hooked up, a new lawsuit alleges.
The suit filed last week includes three plaintiffs, but seeks to become a class action covering "several thousand" consumers who were allegedly misled about licensed professionals fulfilling installation agreements since July 2014, according to court papers filed in the U.S. District Court in Central Islip. The cost of installation started at $200, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit requests at least $10 million to compensate customers.
"P.C. Richard & Son knowingly, willingly and repeatedly deceived its customers by utilizing and employing installers who had not procured the necessary certifications, registrations and licenses," the suit said, alleging that the firm did not use licensed plumbers, “endangering the lives of their customers.”
P.C. Richard officials did not respond to requests for comment. William S. Gyves of Kelley Drye & Warren in Manhattan, a lawyer for P.C. Richard, declined to comment.
Five generations of the Richard family have operated the Farmingdale-based electronics, furniture and appliance business, according to its website. The retailer says it operates 66 showrooms in the metro area and knocks on the doors of about 5,000 customers a day.
Consumers must use licensed plumbers when a job involves gas piping work, such as the first time a gas appliance is installed or when gas appliances are put in new locations during remodeling, according to John Bifolco, vice president of the trade group Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Contractors of Long Island. He said licensed plumbers are generally not required when simply replacing an old appliance with a new one.
Jeffrey Connelly, one of the three plaintiffs and a licensed plumber, according to the lawsuit, bought a gas-range oven, wine cooler, refrigerator, dish washer and other products from P.C. Richard near the end of July 2017, the suit said. Connelly said in an interview Tuesday that he was doing a major home renovation and would be installing a new stove, not replacing one.
A sales associate warned him the warranty may not cover any issues that arise if he did the work himself, Connelly said in the interview. So he decided to let the retailer handle installation.
Connelly was informed by a sales associate and written material that the installation included in his $40,000 purchase would be done by licensed installers, court papers said.
When a worker arrived at his home, Connelly said in the interview, Connelly asked him if he was licensed and the worker said he was not.
Connelly said he decided to handle gas-related tasks himself. He noted in the interview that improper installation can result in gas leaks, which are flammable and can cause explosions.
Most consumers are not as informed about installation guidelines, Rocco Avallone of Avallone & Bellistri in Lake Success, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in an interview.