CLARKSBURG – A water cooler in its lunchroom cracked and caused more than $100,000 in damages, the law firm Robinson & McElwee is alleging in a recently filed lawsuit.

The firm and Wesbanco, Inc., filed a lawsuit Aug. 20 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia against Vertex Water Products of Montclair, Calif.

Vertex designed, developed, manufactured, marketed, sold and distributed a line of water coolers called “Pure Water Coolers.”

Robinson & McElwee had one such cooler in its lunchroom in its Clarksburg office, which is located in a building owned by Wesbanco on West Main Street.

On Aug. 28, 2011, a filter in the cooler cracked, the suit says.

“This failure of the Water Cooler caused a sudden, calamitous event,” the complaint says. “Water flooded the Plaintiffs’ offices as a result of this crack in the component of the Water Cooler.”

As a result, the plaintiffs suffered approximately $115,330.83 in damages, the suit claims.

The nine-page complaint makes claims for negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, design defect, manufacturing defect and warning defect.

“Defendant breached the duties they owed to use reasonable care for the safety of the users of the Water Cooler, including Plaintiffs, by failing to exercise reasonable care in the design, manufacturing, marketing, labeling, packaging and selling their Water Cooler,” the complaint says.

“Defendant also breached the duties it owed to exercise reasonable care for the safety of the users of their Water Cooler, including Plaintiffs, by negligently failing to disseminate, in a manner reasonable calculated to be seen and read by users of the Water Cooler, information concerning their Water Coolers, which was accurate, not misleading, and otherwise adequate to enable users of the Water Cooler to make informed choices concerning the reasonable safe use of the Water Cooler.”

Travelers Property Casualty Company of America is subrogated to the claims to the extent of payments made to the plaintiffs. Some of the damages being sought related to payments made by the company.

Robinson & McElwee has five office, three of which are in West Virginia. In addition to Clarksburg, the firm has offices in Charleston and Wheeling.

According to the firm, Robinson & McElwee's practice is multifaceted and includes natural resources law, including oil and gas title matters; corporate law; commercial real estate development; environmental law; state and local taxation; labor and employment law; utility law; litigation; bankruptcy; estate planning and administration; commercial transactions; and government relations.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at

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