New Hampshire firm ensnarled in legal fight over exploding battery
Chester-based manufacturers’ rep not object of lawsuit, but plaintiff seeks its documents
A small manufacturers’ representative firm in Chester has been caught up in a legal battle over an exploding battery pack it had been peddling.
Last week, Kronos Inc., a Lowell, Mass.-based firm that supplies digital times clocks for workplaces, filed a motion in federal Concord against PowerRep LLC, a two-person firm that has been around for 30 years. The motion seeks to compel PowerRep to turn over documents concerning its client, GlobTek Inc., the New Jersey-based supplier of the battery packs.
In a suit filed in May in a federal district court in New Jersey, Kronos alleges that GlobTek ineffectively designed the lithium battery pack, placing them at risk of short circuiting. Kronos realized it had a serious problem in May 2019 when a battery in a Kronos clock at the Marine Corps Community Services building in Yuma, Ariz., overheated and caught fire.
After several other explosions, including one in a South Carolina school, Kronos issued several recalls affecting 90,000 battery packs shipped to more than 2,000 customers between October 2011 and August of 2018.
As part of that suit, Kronos issued a subpoena in October to PowerRep, the manufacturing rep that acted as a liaison between the two companies for nearly a decade, from the inception of the product designed to the effort developing a replacement.
“PowerRep was involved in issues pertaining to not only design of the backup battery packs, but also production, manufacturing and shipping of the units,” says the motion. When Kronos received the reports of fires and explosion, PowerRep became involved in the investigation into these events, according to the motion.
But PowerRep said it would have to check with GlobTek to see if any confidential information is involved. Some documents were provided on Dec. 30, but “a significant amount of documents were withheld.”
The motion also alleges that the information that it did get revealed that “GlobTek had conspired with PowerRep in an attempt to thwart the discovery process and withhold key documents from Kronos.”
As evidence, the motion included a text by PowerRep’s president, Bryan Wallace, to GlobTek: “I will exclude any correspondence between PowerRep and GlobTek and will claim that in doing so will clash with constraints of our contract with GlobTek.” This indicates the “underhanded nature“ of the communications between the companies, claims the motion.
When contacted by NH Business Review, Wallace declined to comment on the suit, but emphasized that his firm was not the target.
“We are just a sales rep organization. We represent a company being sued, but we aren’t. We are just being asked for information,” said Wallace.
Wallace added that if is the first time since the company was founded in 1990 that it had been involved in any litigation.