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Browe v. Evenflo Company, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 25, 2015

Sadie Browe, Plaintiff,
v.
Evenflo Company, Inc., Defendant.

Kristen G. Marttila, Esq., Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.

Cortney G. Sylvester, Esq., Nilan Johnson Lewis PA, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On April 1, 2015, the undersigned United States District Judge heard oral argument on Defendant Evenflo Company, Inc.'s ("Evenflo") Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 15]. Plaintiff Sadie Browe opposes the motion. For the reasons set forth below, Evenflo's motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

This is a putative class action for purchasers of child car seats which Evenflo manufactured, distributed, marketed, and sold over a four-year period with a particular seat harness buckle. The Complaint [Docket No. 1] alleges that the seats are defective in that the harness buckle is unreasonably difficult or impossible to unlatch during the ordinary consumer use.

In early 2014, the Office of Defects Investigation ("ODI") of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated an investigation after receiving complaints about the functionality of the buckles. Compl. ¶ 32. As of February 2014, consumers had filed 18 reports with the ODI. The reports generally describe consumers' difficulty in releasing the buckle of the subject car seats. Some consumers reported that they had to cut the harness' nylon webbing to release their child because the buckle was not unlatching.

On April 4, 2014, Evenflo announced a recall of the allegedly defective buckle. In ordering the recall, Evenflo stated that the subject seats:

use a harness crotch buckle which may become resistant to unlatching over time, due to exposure to various contaminants (like food and drinks) that are present in everyday use of the convertible car seat or harnessed booster by toddlers. This condition may make it difficult to remove a child from the vehicle.

Compl. ¶ 11. Consumers who purchased a seat subject to the recall were eligible to receive a replacement buckle and instructions for installing the buckle on their existing car seat. Id . ¶ 51

The lead plaintiff, Sadie Browe ("Browe") is a Minnesota resident who purchased an Evenflo model Sureride DLX 65 car seat in 2013. This particular model is equipped with the allegedly defective harness buckle subject to recall. Id . ¶ 17. Shortly after purchasing the seat, Browe noticed that the buckle was becoming more difficult to unlatch. A few months later, the release mechanism became significantly more difficult to operate. Browe alleges breaking her fingernails at least twice while unlatching the buckle. Browe eventually removed the seat from her vehicle and placed it in her husband's car so it would be used less frequently. Id . ¶ 48.

The Complaint alleges breaches of the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, a violation of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and two causes of action arising from Minnesota statutes protecting against deceptive trade practices and false ...


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