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Sleep Number mold problem leads to lawsuit - Emporia Gazette: News

Sleep Number mold problem leads to lawsuit

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Posted: Friday, April 3, 2009 12:00 am

When Stephanie Metzger bought a Sleep Number bed she got all she had expected — and more.

Metzger has been delighted with the comfortable sleep the bed provides.

“I love the bed,” she said.

What the Emporia woman didn’t love was the “more” — the mold she found inside it.

“When I Googled it, there was a thing that said something about Sleep Number bed and mold issues and I clicked on it,” she said. “Some of the beds made before 2005 had been found to have mold in them.”

Metzger and her husband, Phil, purchased their Sleep Number bed in 2004. She quickly unzipped the pillowtop bed to look at the foam and air baffles below.

“I lifted it up and oh my gosh! ... I lifted up the foam and there on the air chamber was mold,” she said.

The patch was about 12 inches by 6 inches.

She called the Select Comfort company that manufactures the bed to inquire what could be done. The company’s representative told her that mold was not common in the beds and said that replacement parts would be sent to eliminate the problem.

Metzger thought the company should be doing more than replacing parts when customers discover mold.

“I said, ‘Why aren’t you sending out a recall notice? You have all of our information,’” she said. “I can go to any Sleep Number store and they can look my information up immediately. ‘Oh,’ they said, ‘because it’s not that common. It’s rare.’”

Metzger posted her experience on her Facebook page and got back two responses from other people she knew who had found mold on their Sleep Number beds. She also learned mold in a Sleep Number had been an issue for an in-law of one of those people, and that she already had cleaned it up.

Metzger also learned that a class action suit has been filed on behalf of people who own Sleep Number beds that also have exhibited mold inside.

The class-action suit was filed on Oct. 30, 2008, in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division, by Robert M. Gagliasso and Andrew V. Stearns of Bustamante, O’Hara & Gagliasso law firm in San Jose, Calif., on behalf of Molly Stearns, Ruth Rose, Dennis Fuller, Dan Schlesinger, Bonnie Fuller, Karen Williams and Brian Williams, and others that may join the class.

Defendants include Select Comfort Retail Corp. of Minnesota; Bed Bath & Beyond, a New York corporation; The Sleep Train, a California corporation, and “Does 1 through 50,000, inclusive,” which may be extended to include other companies that sell the Sleep Number bed.

The suit lists 17 causes for action, including negligence, breach of express warranty and, concealment, intentional misrepresentation, unfair competition, false advertising, and violations of the Sherman Act, the Cartwright Act and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, act.

The complaint states that the company, which began manufacturing the bed in 1987, used national media and celebrities — Lindsay Wagner, Paul Harvey, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, among others — to promote the beds. The company also sponsors National Public Radio’s Prairie Home Companion show with Garrison Keillor and has arrangements to put Sleep Number beds in Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Ronald McDonald House charities, Fisher House Foundation and Winnebago Industries to install the Sleep Number beds in motor homes, the suit states.

The bed is touted as relieving back pain and improving sleep quality, the suit states.

“Commencing at a date known only to defendants, but as early as 1996, defendants received complaints about mold growing in the Sleep Number beds,” the lawsuit alleges.

Select Comfort sent replacement beds, replacement parts and sometimes refunded purchase price, to consumers “and subsequently were notified on numerous occasions, by consumers, that replacement parts and beds also incubated mold, thus making any replacement futile and without purpose,” the suit stated.

Some of the replacement parts also developed mold.

The suit alleges that after becoming aware of the “inherent defect” in the beds, the defendants failed “to recall the beds or otherwise provide notice to purchasers of the inherent defect.”

The suit also accuses Select Comfort CEO Bill McLaughlin of stating in a Sept. 6, 2004, “Furniture/Today” article that “We (Select Comfort) have intentionally been selective, rather than broad, in our public communication on the issue (mold reports) because we believe it is better for the mattress industry and ourselves not to keep this topic in the headlines, causing unnecessary concern for consumers.”

The suit accuses defendants of consistently misrepresenting, since as late as 2004, that they have not received any complaints of mold, confirmed cases of mold or been put on notice of mold since the redesign or refabrication of the Sleep Number bed and that cases of mold in the Sleep Number bed are rare.

“Select Comfort has publicly stated that ‘there have been 0 confirmed cases of mold in a Sleep Number bed sold after the antimicrobial reformulation in 2005.’”

The complaint alleges class action members have suffered actual damages as a result of the “defendants’ misconduct” and that Sleep Number beds are inherently defective and have grown mold.

Select Comfort contends that mold is common in many products and in the air, and cannot be considered a “defect.”

“The first thing that you need to know is that the propensity to grow mold exists with any upholstered product,” Gabby Nelson said in a telephone interview on Thursday. Nelson is director of internal and external communications for Select Comfort Corp. of Minneapolis, Minn. “So it’s not a product defect. Mold can occur in many different upholstered products. ...

“The only difference with a Sleep Number bed is you have the ability to open it up and take a look at it. ... You cannot do that with an innerspring bed or other upholstered product. It’s not a product defect, because mold can occur in any upholstered product,” Nelson said.

“While the incident of mold is quite rare, we are really on the cutting edge, as far as anti-microbial and addressing the issue. We haven’t had a case of mold confirmed since (2005)”.

Nelson said that customers and recifying product issues for them are her priority.

“We have a policy that if people find mold in their bed, we’re going to do everything we can to make it better,” she said.

Nelson said there was no evidence to suggest that Select Comfort beds have a higher propensity for mold than any other upholstered product.

People who believe there is a mold issue in their Sleep Number beds may call Nelson toll-free at (888) 580-9237.

Adam Stoddard, a law clerk who has been handling Sleep Number customers who have joined the lawsuit, said the firm also is handling some personal injury claims.

“Right now we have Select Comfort online site that they can sign on, submit all their information,” Stoddard said. The company also has a toll-free line for clients to call.

People who need more information about the class-action suit may go to www.selectcomfortclassaction.com, or call toll-free, (888) 346-MOLD, Stoddard said.

Meanwhile, Metzger, who considers sleeping on mold a potential health hazard, is disturbed that the manufacturer is not recalling the beds.

“It’s a huge health hazard,” she said, “and there could be lots of people in this town who have mold and doesn’t even know about it.”

She believes that the company is hiding the issue by failing to notify all of its customers to check their beds for mold.

The Select Comfort company, she said, had given her what she considered excuses for not notifying customers. They said that mold was everywhere, even in regular mattresses.

“On your regular mattresses you don’t know where it’s at because you can’t tear it apart,” she recalled the representative saying.

“Somebody needs to get the word out to people who have these beds,” Metzger said.

The company would not replace the pillow top, but sent pieces of replacement foam and the air chambers that the Metzgers installed after taking the bed outside, to release the mold spores into the air, not into the house.

“I would get headaches, so we would have to spray everything down,” she said. “The mold spores, you know, they go everywhere.”

She could not sleep on the bed with its replacement parts for four or five days after the change-out. And she’s concerned the mold will recur, as it has on other beds that have had components replaced.

“I really love my bed. Absolutely can’t sleep on another bed,” Metzger said. “But do I want to buy another now?”

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5 comments:

  • ginnyj posted at 7:06 am on Tue, Jan 14, 2014.

    ginnyj Posts: 1

    this is a follow up to my posting of sep 8, 2013.
    Success!!!!! I sent a letter to the better business bureau detailing my problems and a wonderful lady from sleep number returned my call promptly,. She was deeply apologetic for all of the problems that I had experienced and she offered to give me credit for the current value of a bed similar to mine towards the purchase of a new bed from sleep number. I went to the Sleep Number Store and after trying out several beds... decided to go to the" I-10" in a split king with the Flex Fit Plus adjustable base. I found a couple of Sleep Number sales on these items and she set up the whole thing. I got a sale price on the bed and base (LOVE the massage feature!!!!) and she credited me for the full value on the bed I had... and now I am sleeping on a cloud!! Thank you Sleep Number!!!

     
  • sbkellgren320 posted at 12:04 pm on Thu, Jan 2, 2014.

    sbkellgren320 Posts: 1

    I wish I had heard about this lawsuit years ago! I had the same problems with my sleep number bed that I purchased in 2003 or 2004. I have severe back pain but the bed was extrememly uncomfortable. I would always roll down to the center of the bed and eventually I got tired of it and bought a new mattress. My bed also has mold in it.

     
  • methusla posted at 12:42 pm on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    methusla Posts: 549

    The only comment I have is, I have had my select comfort air bed for going on almost 18 years now and have had little to no problems with it including No mold, except after having it for about 6 years the iflation pump stopped working and select comfort sent me a new pump at absolutely no charge and it has worked fine ever since.

    Is it possible that by my unzipping the air chamber cover twice a week folding it back and letting the inside of the cover "Air Out/Dry Out" is what has kept mold from formin/growing inside the otherwise enclosed mattress compartment ?

    It is a well known fact that mold requires two elements to propogate and grow. Moisture and Darkness. Since the Air Chamber/Matress is enclosed in a type of coverning/Cocoon (outer cover) and the fact that the air inside the matress itself changes tempure with the outside air, cooling to warming with the air temperature in the room or possibly even the temperature of the body that lays on it, the cool to warming of the air will cause condensation of moisture inside the matress cover, therefore this will cause the perfect environment for mold to grow and thrive.

    I also know that airing out not only your bed, bed clothing will deter any accumulation of moisture that may cause mold to grow. Which is why during the warm months of the year I open the basement windows to air out and dry out any condensation that may form under the house.

    This is also why one of the first things you learn in military training is to keep your feet as dry, clean and disinfected as possible. This keeps all sorts of fungus, which mold is, from causing foot problems.

    I am sad to say that I am going to have to get a new bed as the air mattress on my select comfort bed is starting to break down in the center and requires more air to remedy the weakness, which makes the rest of the bed even harder than the center.

    However I believe I will seriously consider an Icomfort mattress by Serta as my next bed. My sister has one and it is every bit as good as the select comfort air bed and the Icomfort bed also has a 20 year warranty.

    However, at least twice a week I will still strip the bed clothing from the Icomfort and let it air out for a day, just as I did with my select comfort bed.

    I was taught, when growing up, that if you take good care of your possessions they will serve you well for a long time and with proper maintenance and care they will also last you a long time. I guess that is why I am still driving my 1973 pick up and why my sister and I drove her 1990 automobile for 18 years before have to get a her a different car, which with a little care and maintenance may also last her for another 18 years. Shoot it is already 9 years old, so it only has another 9 to go.

    Just saying, an Ounce of Prevention/Care/Maintenance is worth a Pound of cure!

     
  • ginny posted at 8:34 am on Sun, Sep 8, 2013.

    ginny Posts: 2

    [sad]
    PS Bob told me that he was "as far up the ladder" as I could go in customer service. He said he had to protect the interests of the stockholders!! Please be warned that SELECT COMFORT is all about REVENUE PROTECTION and NOT CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!!!

     
  • ginny posted at 8:30 am on Sun, Sep 8, 2013.

    ginny Posts: 2

    Happy to have found your article. We purchased our sleep number bed in 2002. LOVED my bed!!! In 2009, I opened up the bed and found black mold everywhere and on everything...yuk!

    I called the company and they replaced the mattress and components...wIth a DEFECTIVE BED!!! They sent me the replacement parts via UPS and I had to take it down and set up the new one myself. The problem was that they didn't send enough foam and the pillowtop broke down and the controller wouldn't work properly. I was NEVER comfortable on the bed...it was not level when inflated to 100 because of the lack of foam. The middle was caved in and I practically had to hang onto the side of the bed to keep from rolling in to the middle. I called and wrote the company several times...they sent out some replacement foam which helped but it still wasn't right. I invited them to come take a look at the bed but they didn't come out till aug 2013. The techinicians told me that the pillowtop had broken down and I need to get a replacement. WOW. I couldn't figure it out but that new pillowtop that they sent me in 2009 was defective from the start!!!
    I wrote a letter and "BOB" from select comfort called me. Because they had already replaced the bed once...even though it was not my fault that it had mold... they would not replace it again under the limited warranty... HOWEVER they would SELL ME replacement parts at a 15-25% discount. SOOOO... basically they replaced a moldy but comfortable bed with a defective UNCOMFORTABLE bed and its my problem that I can't get COMFORTABLE on my DEFECTIVE bed. Typically you get a 2 year warranty on the pillowtop and if its replaced you get a 30 day warranty on the replacement. Then you're DONE! The breakdown of the pillowtop of this bed in two years is considered NORMAL!!!
    Well why would anyone pay $2000 for a bed that might last only 2 years??? I had a cheap $300 bed that lasted 18 years and this OVERLY EXPENSIVE bed didn't last 6 months after it was replaced. They may have fixed the mold problem... but their beds sure don't last long!!!

     

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