Judge Refuses to Throw Out Graco Car Seat Class Action Suit

A California federal judge refused to throw out a proposed class action over allegedly defective buckles in Graco car seats. In the ruling, the judge said the company’s recall and offer of a refund do not prevent plaintiffs from pursuing their claims.

U.S. District Judge James Donato denied a motion to dismiss filed by Graco, finding that the plaintiff’s claims under the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law, and for breach of implied warranty under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, could move forward, Law360 reports.Seth Long sued Graco in March 2013. In February of this year Graco issued a recall for 3.7 million forward-facing toddler seats over the buckles, which could become so clogged with food, juice, formula or vomit that they become stuck in the latched position, making it hard to get the child out of the seat, according to the suit. Graco added an additional 1.9 million car seats to the recall in July.

Judge Donato rejected Graco’s argument that subject matter jurisdiction cannot exist in this case because Long was offered full monetary compensation for his claims on two occasions, according to Law360. Graco argued that the refund offers prevent Long from alleging a redressable injury that is essential for Article III standing. Graco argued that its recall program provides consumers a “full refund” of their purchase cost when they return the product, but Long disputes this, arguing that Graco offered only replacement buckles and not refunds, 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.

At the time of the February recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a series of reports on the car seats The agency had been investigating the belt buckles since 2012. In some cases, where the buckle would not open, parents would have to pick up the child and the seat — which together could weigh more than 70 pounds — in the event of an emergency, the agency said.

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