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Corning, Corelle Reformulation of Pyrex from Inferior Materials Class Action

Pyrex Measuring Cup

Is it fraud if a company takes a decades-old, reliable product and changes its composition to an inferior material, which is then sold under the same name? The complaint for this class action claims cites fraud, among other things, in this case on the changed composition of Pyrex, a respected and dependable kitchen product for many years.

The National Class for this action is all persons in the US who bought one or more Class Pyrex Product for household use. Alternatively, the Ohio class is all persons in Ohio who bought one or more Class Pyrex Product for household use.

Corning, one of the defendants in this class action, is known for its “expertise in glass science, ceramics science, and optical physics, along with its deep manufacturing and engineering capabilities…” It began selling kitchen products under the Pyrex trademark around 1915.

Pyrex products were made from borosilicate glass, which has a low coefficient of thermal expansion. In other words, when it is heated, it does not expand much, so Pyrex products have been marketed at “from ice box to oven” items that can withstand the abrupt temperature changes sometimes encountered in cooking and meal preparation. Borosilicate glass is also mechanically strong, so that it does not break easily from other causes.

Generations of family cooks have grown up using Pyrex products, believing in their high quality and ability to withstand abrupt temperature changes. But the complaint claims that in the 1980s, Corning began making  Pyrex from a cheaper material, soda lime glass, which are less expensive but do not have the strength or temperature properties of borosilicate glass.

In 1998, the complaint says, Corning got rid of its consumer products division and licensed the US rights for the Pyrex brand to Corelle (formerly called World Kitchen).

The complaint cites an article published by the American Ceramics Society in 2012 entitled, “Shattering Glass Cookware.” The article noted that the reformulation reduced the “thermal stress resistance” of Pyrex products and made them vulnerable to “sudden, explosion-like failure.” Although the defendants in this case claim that the soda lime glass is strengthened using a thermal tempering process, the complaint says that in actuality the process does not strengthen the glass and causes it to break in a more dangerous manner when it does shatter.

The complaint quotes online consumer complaints detailing the shattering of Pyrex products.

Among other things, the complaint cites Illinois law (since Corelle is headquartered in Illinois) as well as breach of warranty and common law fraud.

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