United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ALECIA HINTON, f/k/a Alecia Kees, individually and for the heirs and next of kin of Jaidyn Grace Andrus; and SCOTT ANDRUS, individually, Plaintiffs,
SUNBEAM PRODUCTS, INC., d/b/a Jarden Consumer Solutions, Defendant.
M. SAYLER AND DAVID M. BOLT, BOLT HOFFER BOYD LAW FIRM, FOR
J. O'CONNELL, GOLDBERG SEGALLA LLP; GEORGE W. SOULE,
SOULE & STULL LLC, FOR DEFENDANT.
PATRICK J. SCHILTZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
products-liability action arises out of the death of the
five-year-old daughter of plaintiffs Alecia Hinton and Scott
Andrus. The child died after a humidifier caught fire in her
bedroom. The humidifier was manufactured by defendant Sunbeam
Products, Inc. (“Sunbeam”).
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross-motions
for partial summary judgment. The Court held a hearing on the
motions on January 10, 2020. For the reasons stated on the
record at the hearing, the Court denies plaintiffs'
motion and denies Sunbeam's motion as to plaintiffs'
claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The
only remaining issue is whether Sunbeam is entitled to
summary judgment on plaintiffs' claim for post-sale
negligent failure to warn. For the reasons that follow, the Court
denies Sunbeam's motion as to that claim.
Great Northern Insurance Company v. Honeywell
International, Inc., the Minnesota Supreme Court adopted
§ 10 of the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products
Liability, under which a seller has a post-sale duty to warn
(1) the seller knows or reasonably should know that the
product poses a substantial risk of harm to persons or
(2) those to whom a warning might be provided can be
identified and can reasonably be assumed to be unaware of the
risk of harm; and
(3) a warning can be effectively communicated to and acted on
by those to whom a warning might be provided; and
(4) the risk of harm is sufficiently great to justify the
burden of providing a warning.
911 N.W.2d 510, 520 (Minn. 2018). Plaintiffs bear the burden
of establishing each of these factors. Id.
argues that plaintiffs cannot establish the second and third
factors because they cannot prove that Sunbeam could identify
and effectively communicate a warning to consumers who
purchased its humidifiers. The Court disagrees.
have submitted evidence that Alecia Hinton purchased the
humidifier in 2010 or 2011 and that, at the time of purchase,
she filled out a product-registration card and sent it to
Sunbeam. Hinton Dep. 49-50; Hinton Decl. ¶ 1. The card
asked for detailed information, including the model number of
the product and the customer's name, address, and email
address. Sayler Decl. Ex. L at 2. The address that Hinton
provided is the same residence where the fire eventually
occurred. Hinton Decl. ¶ 1.
undisputed that Sunbeam does not currently possess any
information about Hinton or Andrus in its customer database.
Nerkizian Aff. ¶ 9. The exemplar registration card in
the record, however, states that Sunbeam retains customer
information in its files “for up to five years.”
Sayler Decl. Ex. L at 1. If in fact Sunbeam has a five-year
retention policy, a jury could find that Sunbeam had
plaintiffs' contact information during at least part of
the time when a warning could have been provided,
though Sunbeam does not have that information now. Sunbeam
argues that its current database includes customer
information submitted as far back as ...