Class Actions -- 2018

Grayson v. General Electric Co.   (2nd Circuit)

Class certification without harm

This is a class action suit alleging misrepresentations about microwave ovens. The disputed class of plaintiffs includes individuals whose ovens allegedly were defective because some of the glass doors broke after 9 years of use. The trial judge certified a large class of plaintiffs, 99% of which never experienced the problem alleged and 98% of which never will. That order is on appeal.

The NAM and Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers filed an amicus brief supporting the appeal. We argued that hearing the appeal is important to resolve whether it is proper to certify a class that includes predominantly unharmed purchasers. Certification decisions early in a case are critical to fairness for manufacturers, since improperly certified classes place tremendous pressure on companies to settle cases for much more than they would otherwise merit. Most of the class members who have suffered no injury do not have standing to sue, and it is unconstitutional to provide a judicial remedy.

We also argued that the court should have considered whether a variety of issues, such as reliance, injury, damages and defenses required so much individual consideration that it would be improper to allow the class action to be certified to determine liability only. A court should consider all factual or legal issues to determine whether issues subject to generalized proof are more substantial than those subject to individual inquiry.

On May 23, 2017, the 2nd Circuit denied the petitioner leave to appeal the District Court's certification of the class and disposed the case to the District of Connecticut, where the judge administratively closed the case on May 11, 2018 pending successful mediation.

Related Documents:
NAM amicus brief  (March 28, 2017)


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