Thursday, May 12, 2011
A federal appellate panel in Chicago has upheld the certification of a class action against Pella, a manufacturer of windows, based on allegations of a design defect leading to rotting wood around the windows. One of the issues was how to handle consumers who have not yet suffered economic loss. The plaintiffs' counsel:
came up with a novel solution that persuaded U.S. District Judge James Zagel. He separated the window buyers into two classes: Consumers ...who have suffered economic loss, and a larger, nationwide group of those who haven't. But instead of seeking compensation for the latter class, he asked the judge to void Pella's 10-year warranty, pay for window inspections and other "declaratory" relief. The latter class would be allowed to file individual claims with Pella once rot was detected.
Consumer class actions are typically not in our wheelhouse, but the Chicago Tribune article quotes Sheila:
"This is an interesting twist in consumer fraud cases," said Sheila Scheuerman, an associate law professor at the Charleston School of Law who specializes in class actions. "Courts have been fairly hostile to classes where there are no injuries. But litigation always evolves to adapt to restrictions."
Full coverage from the Tribune is available here.