Judge Partially Denies Motion to Dismiss Maytag Oven Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit claiming Maytag sold stoves with dangerous igniters will be allowed to proceed, after a federal judge partially denied a motion by the defendants to dismiss the case. In an order dated August 31, 2011, Judge Arthur D. Spatt of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, let stand claims of fraudulent concealment against Maytag Co. and Maytag Sales Co., as well as allegations that the companies violated Section 349 of the New York State General Business Law (GBL). Judge Spatt also let stand a fraudulent misrepresentation claim against Plesser’s M.S.H. Inc., a Babylon, New York, department store.

At the same time, Judge Spatt did dismiss, with prejudice, the lawsuit’s fraudulent misrepresentation claims against the Maytag defendants, as well as the fraudulent concealment and GBL Section 349 claims against Plesser’s.

The lawyers appearing for the plaintiff included Andres F. Alonso, Partner, and Daniel C. Burke, Associate, with the national law firm of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/">Parker Waichman Alonso LLP.

The original Maytag class action lawsuit was brought by Gary Woods, who purchased a Maytag gas oven in 2005. In February 29, 2008, a malfunction occurred that caused the oven to explode. Woods filed suit on December 10, 2009 in Nassau County Court, located in Mineola, New York, alleging that Maytag knew of, and intentionally concealed, the oven’s defect. The original complaint charged the defendants with breach of the implied warranty of fitness and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. On March 10, 2010, the defendants filed a federal motion to dismiss the initial complaint in its entirety with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York.

In an order dated November 2, 2010, Judge Spatt dismissed the lawsuit’s original breach of implied warranty claims with prejudice, finding they were time barred. Judge Spatt also dismissed the lawsuit’s fraudulent inducement and fraudulent concealment claims, finding the complaint did not state the misrepresentations and omissions Woods relied upon in purchasing the oven. Also, Woods failed to adequately plead that Maytag had knowledge of the defect and acted fraudulently. However, all of those claims were dismissed with leave to amend.

In an amended complaint filed on November 10, 2010, Woods charged all of the defendants with fraudulent concealment and fraudulent misrepresentation, as well as violation of Section 349 of the New York GBL, which declares that “deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade, or commerce, or in the furnishing of any service” are unlawful in New York. In December the defendants moved to dismiss the claim in its entirety.

In allowing the fraudulent concealment claim to stand against the Maytag defendants, Judge Spatt disagreed with the defendants’ contention that Woods “had not sufficiently alleged that (1) Maytag had knowledge of the alleged defects; and (2) any failure to disclose was done with the requisite intent to defraud.” In allowing the GBL claim to stand against the Maytag defendants, Judge Spatt found that Woods plausibly alleged that they “had knowledge of the purported defect and failed to disclose that information for the purposes of fraudulent concealment,” thus satisfying the pleading requirement for a claim under Section 349 of the GBL.

In allowing the fraudulent misrepresentation claim against Plesser’s, Judge Spatt found that Woods’ amended complaint “sufficiently alleged facts that meet the heightened pleading requirements for fraudulent misrepresentation, made with the requisite scienter, which the Plaintiff reasonably relied upon to his detriment.”

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