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Judge Won’t Toss Proposed Class-Action Over Recalled Toddler Seats

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A federal judge in California will not toss out a proposed class-action lawsuit filed by a consumer who purchased a defective front-facing toddler seat from Graco Children’s Products Inc.

In March 2013, the Plaintiff sued Graco over the recalled seats. Graco officially recalled the products in February after the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) put pressure on the company. The agency said it had received complaints from consumers that food and liquid spills made the buckles difficult to open. One complaint filed with the agency said it took a consumer 45 minutes to unbuckle her child – so long that she considered first cutting the child out of the seat, and then calling 911, according to The Detroit News.

As part of the recall, Graco agreed to replace the defective buckles in the affected seats, as well as 2.3 million child seats not included in the recall. This, the company said, counted as a refund. The Plaintiff in the case argued that this did not count as a refund.

Graco sought to dismiss the suit, arguing that the firm’s offer to replace the buckles constituted a “full refund” of consumers’ purchase cost when they when they return the product, but U.S. District Judge James Donato rejected the argument, saying subject matter jurisdiction cannot exist in this case because the Plaintiff was offered full monetary compensation for his claims on two occasions. Graco argued the Plaintiff could not allege a redressable injury that is necessary for Article III standing because he was offered a refund, court documents show. Judge Donato ruled, however, that Graco failed to prove that it ever actually offered the Plaintiff a full refund for the defective car seat in offering to replace the buckles, according to court filings.

“Even assuming applicable law allows for a finding of mootness or lack of standing after an offer or delivery of full compensation, and recognizing the burden allocation on this issue, Graco does not raise a legitimate question about subject matter jurisdiction,” Judge Donato wrote. “The motion is all smoke and no fire about whether Graco actually tendered refunds to Long before or after this lawsuit started.”

In August, the Plaintiff, who had purchased one of the recalled seats, asked the court to reject Graco’s motion to dismiss his suit. He argued that the company could not “hide behind a recall” if it did not offer consumers full monetary compensation.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating whether Graco delayed recalling 6.1 million child seats over the faulty buckles. It was the largest recall of child seats in U.S. history.Graco could be fined as much as $35 million if the NHTSA determines it failed to recall the seats in a timely fashion. The White House wants the maximum fine to go up to $300 million, according to The Detroit News.

breakinglawsuitnews.com disclaimer: This article: Judge Won’t Toss Proposed Class-Action Over Recalled Toddler Seats was posted on Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 at 3:51 pm at breakinglawsuitnews.com and is filed under Product Liability Lawsuits.

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