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Detroit Sues Lighting Manufacturer Over Failed Street Lights

Detroit Sues Lighting Manufacturer Over Failed Street Lights

The City of Detroit filed a lawsuit against Leotek Electronics USA, an LED lighting manufacturer based in California, claiming more than 20,000 LED street lights purchased less than 5 years ago are failing.

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Eastern Michigan, claims Detroit’s Public Lighting Authority bought 25,320 E-Cobra Luminaires from Leotek at a cost of $3,962,988 in 2014 and 2015. The lights are being used as part of a city-wide project to improve lighting in all neighborhoods. The city claims the lighting project has “improved the safety and wellbeing of its residents and otherwise contributed to its revitalization”. The suit says the LED streetlights were purchased with a 10-year warranty.

However, the city claims about 20,000 of the Leotek luminaires are prematurely dimming and burning out, leaving neighborhoods in the dark. The suit goes on to say that the PLA purchased lighting from other manufacturers, and there are no problems. According to the court filings, “In contrast, the luminaires purchased from Cree, Cooper, and King are performing according to industry standards and expectations.” The filing also says, “Over the past 5 months, while streetlights were failing in large sections of Detroit, Leotek refused every attempt by the PLA to get the benefit of its warranties, even though they admit the problem with its luminaires and know it is imperiling the safety and wellbeing of Detroit residents.”

However, the suit does say a Leotek knew about the problems last December and offered to “work with you to correct the problems”. Also, the suit says a representative of Leotek met with the PLA in April and toured the areas where its LED streetlights were installed. Detroit’s PLA claims Leotek offered to provide a timetable to replace the lights by April 17. According to the suit, “The deadline has come and gone, and Leotek has ceased all communications with the PLA. Indeed, approximately five months have passed since the PLA notified Leotek of the defective E-Cobra luminaires, and they refused to perform under its warranties.” The PLA says it has no choice but to purchase and install replacement LED streetlights at its own expense.

The lawsuit also claims Detroit’s PLA insisted that all streetlights installed in the project were made in the United States. The PLA believes Leotek assembled the E-Cobra Luminaires in Taiwan.

In response to the lawsuit, an attorney for Leotek wrote to the court that Detroit’s Public Lighting Authority has not given the lighting manufacturer enough information about the failing luminaires. “Leotek is generally aware of some problems in the LEDs provided to the authority but Leotek has not been given any documentation from the Authority regarding what failures have occurred,” the response says. ┬áIt adds, “Leotek has also not been given any documentation evidencing the Authority’s survey of the lighting system. We look forward to working with the Authority to resolve these issues as expeditiously as possible.”

 

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