United States District Court, D. Minnesota
John Penrod, Gus Erpenbach, and Juan Welsh, individually and on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
K&N Engineering, Inc., Defendant.
Matthew D. Schelkopf and Joseph B. Kenney, Sauder Schelkopf
LLC, Berwyn, PA; Daniel E. Gustafson, Daniel C. Hedlund,
Catherine K. Smith, and Ling S. Wang, Gustafson Gluek PLLC,
Minneapolis, MN; and David C. Wright, McCune Wright Arevalo
LLP, Ontario, CA, for plaintiffs John Penrod, Gus Erpenbach,
and Juan Welsh.
C. Goodman and Anne M. Kelts, Baker McKenzie LLP, San
Francisco, CA; and Amanda M. Cialkowski and Leah N.
Kippola-Friske, Nilan Johnson Lewis PA, Minneapolis, MN, for
defendant K&N Engineering, Inc.
OPINION AND ORDER
C. Tostrud United States District Court
filed this case in federal district court seeking to
represent a nationwide class-or, alternatively,
state-specific classes-of persons who sustained damages
caused by Defendant's allegedly defective oil filters.
Plaintiffs assert only state-law claims and allege there is
subject-matter jurisdiction over this case on the basis of
the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). Defendant
K&N Engineering seeks dismissal of the case on several
grounds, including that Plaintiffs' claims do not satisfy
CAFA's $5 million amount-in-controversy threshold.
Because Plaintiffs' complaint does not allege facts
plausibly establishing this jurisdictional requirement, the
complaint will be dismissed. Plaintiffs will be permitted to
file an amended complaint.
individuals from Minnesota, Missouri, and Oregon-allege that
K&N designs and sells defective engine-oil filters for
use in motorcycles and powersport vehicles (like jet skis and
ATVs). Compl. ¶¶ 1, 11, 18, 26 [ECF No. 1];
Williams Decl. ¶ 2 [ECF No. 19] (clarifying that K&N
does not manufacture oil filters). Plaintiffs allege
specifically that three models of K&N filters (the
KN-138, KN-204, and KN-303) share “a structural and
manufacturing defect whereby they can suddenly separate or
fracture causing pressurized and hot engine oil to erupt and
spill onto the person, engine, components, tires, and riding
surfaces.” Compl. ¶¶ 2-3. At the very least,
Plaintiffs allege, this “separation defect”
renders the oil filter unusable; at worst, the defect can
result in “engine fires, engine failures, vehicle
crashes, personal injuries, and other economic
damages.” Id. ¶ 3; see also Id.
¶ 45 (“Typically, on motorcycles, oil filters are
located directly in front of the rear tire. Because of the
placement, an oil filter failure can result in an immediate
loss of traction to the rear tire and cause a serious
do not identify when these oil filters entered the market,
but allege that “Defendant has long known, since at
least 2014, that the Oil Filters are defective.”
Id. ¶ 53. Plaintiffs describe in their
complaint how K&N initiated a voluntary recall in August
2017. Id. ¶¶ 63, 68-69. The recall was
limited to the KN-204 model and implicated seven months'
worth of filters-those manufactured between March 1, 2016,
and September 30, 2016. Id. ¶ 69. K&N
offered as part of the recall to “replace the affected
oil filters at no charge.” Id. Plaintiffs also
allege that around this same time, K&N modified the
filter design, “revis[ing] the shape of the removal nut
and canister end to improve the mating of the two
components” in order to address “improper welding
of the nut to the canister” at the location where oil
would leak. Id. ¶¶ 67, 69.
all motorcycle owners who used the KN-204 model filter,
allege that their oil filters failed around or after the time
of the recall (July 2017, April 2018, and July 2018). See
Id. ¶¶ 12-13, 19-20, 27-28. Plaintiffs Penrod
and Erpenbach experienced failures resulting in oil spillage;
Plaintiff Welsh experienced oil spillage and engine failure.
See Id. ¶¶ 13, 20, 28. K&N offered
Penrod $300 to compensate him, but Penrod declined; Erpenbach
attempted to contact K&N, but was unable to do so; the
complaint does not allege that Welsh ever contacted K&N
or that any Plaintiff participated in the recall.
Id. ¶¶ 14, 22, 26-31.
seek to represent a nationwide class of “[a]ll persons
or entities in the United States that purchased a KN138,
KN204, and/or KN303 Oil Filter.” Id. ¶
73. Alternatively, they seek to represent three subclasses of
Minnesota, Missouri, and Oregon purchasers. Id.
¶ 74. Plaintiffs assert claims for negligence
(id. ¶¶ 82-89), strict liability for a
product defect and failure to warn (id. ¶¶
90-103), breach of express warranty (id.
¶¶ 149-155), breach of implied warranty
(id. ¶¶ 156-161), and violation of various
state consumer-protection statutes (id. ¶¶
104-48). Plaintiffs seek an “award [of] all actual,
general, special, incidental, statutory, and consequential
damages and restitution, ” as well as attorneys'
fees, but do not seek punitive damages at this time.
Id. at 37-38. They also seek injunctive relief
including “an order that requires Defendant to recall
and/or replace the Oil Filters and to extend the applicable
warranties to a reasonable period of time.”
of an answer, K&N moved to dismiss on several grounds,
including lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, lack of
personal jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim. Mot. at
1-2 [ECF No. 16]. K&N requests that the Court dismiss the
complaint in its entirety with prejudice, or alternatively
that the Court “strike Plaintiffs' overbroad class
allegations from the complaint.” Id. at 2.
first priority is subject-matter jurisdiction. Crawford
v. F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., 267 F.3d 760, 764 (8th Cir.
2001) (“It is axiomatic that a court may not proceed at
all in a case unless it has jurisdiction.”).
“CAFA gives federal courts jurisdiction over certain
class actions, defined in § 1332(d)(1), if the class has
more than 100 members, the parties are minimally diverse, and
the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.” Dart
Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct.
547, 552 (2014) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2), (5)(B)).
Here, the Parties do not disagree that they are minimally
diverse or that the class contains at least 100 members. They
disagree about whether the amount in controversy meets the $5
task of determining whether a case meets CAFA's $5
million threshold is not intended to be difficult.
“[T]he claims of the individual class members shall be
aggregated to determine whether the matter in controversy
exceeds the sum or value of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of
interest and costs.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(6). CAFA
“tells the District Court to . . . add up the value
of the claim of each person who falls within the definition
of [the] proposed class and determine whether the resulting
sum exceeds $5 million.” StandardFire
Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 568 U.S. 588, 592 (2013);
Faltermeier v. FCA U.S. LLC, 899 F.3d 617, 621 ...