"Orphaned" Water Heaters Prompt Lawsuit Charging a risk to homeowner property and health, Michigan attorney E. Powell Miller has launched a class-action lawsuit against the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company (MichCon) on behalf of 45,000 Michigan homeowners who participated in a utility-sponsored furnace-replacement program. According to Miller, thousands of chimneys may have been damaged by "orphaned" water heaters: heaters left alone on flues that had previously been shared by furnaces. Homeowners who replaced inefficient gas furnaces with high-efficiency sidewall-vented models received low-interest financing and a $300 rebate from the gas utility. Miller charges that MichCon encouraged homeowners to make the change without warning them about the risks posed by orphaned water heaters. Where water heaters were left connected to a flue