March 30, 2023
ESCO’s Dispute with LEDVANCE Goes to Jury Trial
Massachusetts firm claims that faulty products caused over $1 million in damages
Jury trial proceedings began yesterday in Boston, Massachusetts where an energy services company (ESCO) is suing a lighting manufacturer for allegedly selling them faulty products that caused $1.15 million in damages.
Kelly Cota, a well-known veteran in commercial/industrial New England lighting markets, filed a lawsuit in 2019 against Forest Lighting, alleging wrongdoing by the company. Due to Forest Lighting merging with its sister company LEDVANCE, the trial defendants are LEDVANCE and its Chinese parent company MLS. Cota’s companies, Wicked Watts and Wicked-Lite Supply are the plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit.
Cota alleges that over a 20-month period, her company purchased over five thousand LED lighting products for use on various lighting projects. The integrated T5 fixtures were economical LED replacements to fluorescent lamps and strips and also required minimal install time due to the plug-and-play G5 power connectors and jumpers. Cota invested in inventory of 3500K and 4100K color temperature variations and used the products across many lighting projects.
Above: Excerpt from Forest Lighting T5N brochure
Flickering and strobing
The lawsuit alleges that over time, Cota observed an extremely high and abnormal failure rate. The fixtures were allegedly flickering and strobing, which caused Cota’s crew to revisit clients’ sites, assess the problems and remedy the problems – all at a cost to Wicked Watts. After much back and forth with Forest Lighting and LEDVANCE personnel – including high ranking executives of each brand – the matters were not resolved to Cota’s satisfaction.
Above: Cota's exhibit of an email from Steve Dore, Forest Lighting Chief Sales Officer
Cota’s legal filings consistently point to what seems to be one of her strongest pieces of evidence, a third-party test report provided by the manufacturer indicating that five of eight products tested by the lab were found to be faulty and produced a stroboscopic flicker when powered.
Cota is claiming $1.15 million in damages. Court records don’t provide further specificity that demonstrates how Cota arrived at that total.
LEDVANCE denies allegations
LEDVANCE declined to comment to inside.lighting on the matter, but the company is on the record denying the claims made by the plaintiff and state that not all of the fixtures were defective. They also argue that the plaintiff did not comply with all agreed-upon warranty provisions and terms and conditions of the sale required for their entitlement to recover damages. Additionally, LEDVANCE claims that the plaintiff’s damages are speculative and not duplicative, and that they did not incur any damages in reliance on LEDVANCE or due to its conduct. Finally, the defendants assert that the plaintiffs did not mitigate their damages.
Jury selection began in Suffolk County Court yesterday morning with the trial commencing immediately thereafter.