Appeal of Product Liability Class Action Successfully Defended
- Client: Graco Children's Products, Inc.
- Date: July 2009
- Location: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the dismissal of a putative class action brought on behalf of purchasers of cribs manufactured by Simplicity, Inc. and carrying the brand name of our client, Graco Children's Products, Inc.
The original complaint arose out of a recall of the cribs due to the possibility of a drop-side malfunction that could cause the drop-side to separate from the crib. As part of the recall, Simplicity offered a repair kit that would disable the drop-side.
Following the recall, the plaintiffs filed a class action suit United States District Court for the District of Minnesota claiming, among other things, that the manufacturer was required to repair or replace the crib under limited warranty. In May 2008, the district court threw out the complaint, prompting the appeal. In their suit, the plainiffs alleged that they had not received the benefit of their bargain in purchasing the crib because the drop-side was not safe for them to use.
In upholding the lower court's dismissal, the Eighth Circuit pointed out that the named plaintiffs in the suit had a normally functioning crib and therefore had not suffered a legally cognizable injury.
The appeals court went on to say that the named plaintiffs, "purchased a crib with a functioning drop-side and that crib continues to have a functioning drop-side. Their bargain with Simplicity and Graco did not contemplate the performance of cribs purchased by other consumers."
The court went on to say that the named plaintiffs were essentially attempting to recast a no-injury product liability lawsuit as a contract-based claim, as the economic loss they were claiming was only recoverable in contract. A contractual claim would not hold up, however, because the defendants had delivered what was promised - a crib with a functional drop-side.
Schiff Hardin's representation in this case merged the talents of our class action and product liability litigators, saving a client from a multi-million dollar exposure.
O'Neil et al. v. Simplicity Inc. et al., case number 08-2278 (8th Cir.)