I have had issues with other JCI actuators and the solution was to reset the 24Vac. The electronics in the actuator were "locking up" and there was a recall placed on the parts. This was a couple years ago on a M9216-HGA valve though. Could be going down the same path. If you have a relationship with the local branch try them and see if they now of a problem. Otherwise try Milwaukwee on the 800# and see if you can get somewhere.
You are correct in that the 24vac removal resets the actuator. But that does not bode well in an automatic control application. I was looking to see if your second part is true that possibly a manufacturing defect is out there since I have some actuators that do not exhibit this symptom.
I took the blue cape off and replaced it with a real superman suit. Glad to know that blue blood runs in your veins though. LOL: