Federal Court Grants Final Approval to Kansas Consumer Class Action Settlement

Home / Class Action / Federal Court Grants Final Approval to Kansas Consumer Class Action Settlement

Federal Court Grants Final Approval to Kansas Consumer Class Action Settlement

On September 11, 2015, The Klamann Law Firm won final approval of a class action settlement resolving claims that outdoor railing products designed by Barrette Outdoor Living Inc. and sold by Home Depot USA Inc. contained defective plastic brackets. The Court ruled the class action settlement “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” Notably, class members will receive approximately $113.16 for each allegedly defective bracket purchased. The brackets originally sold at retail for approximately $2.50.

As a result of the class action settlement, appeals of the District Court’s Memorandum and Order certifying the class action will be dismissed. In that precedent-setting order, the District Court held that since Home Depot did not maintain records of the identities of its customers, alternative methods of ascertaining the class must be permitted. In particular, the District Court approved of an identification method whereby putative class members simply complete a claim with proof of purchase.  The Court also held that plaintiff’s underlying personal injury claims, which he pursued alongside the class claims, did not create a “fundamental” conflict of interest. Thus, the plaintiffs could pursue both individual claims and claims made on behalf of the class in a single suit.

In addition, although Kansas courts have yet to address the issue head on, the District Court held that under Kansas law, a defect need not manifest itself in order to justify class certification. This means that a class action may be brought on behalf of those who have unwittingly purchased a product that does not appear to be defective, even upon inspection, so long as manifestation of the defect is only a matter of time.

Another issue left unresolved by Kansas courts was whether a class action petition, alone, satisfies the requirement that notice of the alleged defect be given to the seller within a reasonable time after the defect is discovered. The District Court answered that it did. Simply put, in certain circumstances, notice of the defect may be given on behalf of plaintiffs and all potential class members through the filing of an initial class action complaint.

Finally, the District Court held that although the question of damages might vary among class members, the issues pertinent to the determination of liability could be decided on a class-wide basis while damages questions are reserved for a later date. This is an important development.  Many class actions layers feared that recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court required commonality of all issues, including the question of damages. Numerous courts, however, have since interpreted the Supreme Court’s holdings and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as allowing for damages to be bifurcated from the class-wide determination of liability. The District Court’s Memorandum and Order adopts the same interpretation.

The District Court’s Memorandum and Order certifying the class action on the question of liability represents a major advancement in favor of plaintiffs in the State of Kansas. With the final approval of the class action settlement and dismissal of appeals, the advancement is made more durable.

To read the Order, click here.

Recommended Posts
Contact Us

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search