Sonic Claims Sylvania Signs Caused Fires at Restaurants

Oklahoma City, Okla.-based Sonic Restaurants Inc. is seeking more than $750,000 in a lawsuit against Osram Sylvania Inc. claiming that lighted signs at some of the company’s drive-in restaurants have been damaged by electrical shorts, fires and other problems.

In the lawsuit, Sonic Restaurants, a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Sonic Corp., claims it reached an agreement in 2005 with Sylvania and has since had LED signs installed at 150 of its approximately 625 restaurants across the country.

Sonic claims Sylvania, a subsidiary of Germany’s Siemens AG, did not provide “critically important information needed for the safe installation and operation of the units, including steps that must be taken to ensure that the units remained waterproof.”

The restaurant said it has had problems with lighting malfunctions, electrical shortages, and manufacturing and material defects with the boards, which have resulted in canopy fires.

Osram Sylvania chief corporate spokeswoman Stephanie J. Anderson said the company’s lawyers had not seen the lawsuit and she could not comment on its specifics.

However, Anderson said Osram Sylvania is the second-largest LED manufacturer in the world and has satisfied customers who have used similar LED signs safely at their businesses.

“We at Osram Sylvania stand by the safety and performance of our lighting products when they are used and installed properly,” Anderson said.

Sonic also alleged that Sylvania refused to fix problems with the signs after initially agreeing to inspect and repair them.

“Sylvania not only has failed to use reasonable care, skill and diligence in providing units and related services to Sonic Restaurants, but has failed and refused to remedy the resulting problems despite agreeing to replace and repair defects in the units,” the lawsuit claims.

Sonic claims Sylvania breached its contract and warranties.

Sonic spokeswoman Nancy Robertson said the company does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Sonic Corp., the nation’s largest drive-in restaurant chain, operates at about 3,200 locations in the United States and Mexico. Most of the locations are in the south-central U.S.