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Weil Wins Summary Judgment for Dometic Dismissing Putative Consumer Class Action

On July 27, 2017, Weil achieved a significant victory on behalf of Dometic Corporation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida after U.S. District Court Judge Robert N. Scola granted summary judgment in a putative class action lawsuit, dismissing the lawsuit in its entirety. The order was unsealed on July 31, 2017.

Dometic is a leading manufacturer of gas absorption refrigerators, which are uniquely suited for use in recreational vehicles. The lawsuit alleged that the cooling units in several models of the company’s gas absorption refrigerators purportedly contained a latent defect. Following a year of extensive discovery, the Court held that the Plaintiffs had failed to establish that there is any “inherent defect that is manifest in all Dometic cooling units.” The Court was persuaded by the testimony of the Plaintiffs’ own expert, who made clear that the alleged defect does not inevitably occur during normal operation and that “a variety of factors” unrelated to the alleged defect needed to be considered. The Court therefore concluded that, at best, the Plaintiffs had established a risk of product failure, which is insufficient to establish the sort of actionable injury required to prosecute their case.

The Court also held that the Plaintiffs had not established that they suffered any economic harm as a result of the alleged defect. The Plaintiffs had alleged a “benefit of the bargain” theory, arguing that they overpaid for the refrigerators and that the product lost resale value as a result of the purported defect. The Court rejected this theory, reasoning that the Plaintiffs “have put forward no evidence that Dometic refrigerators have actually dropped in value as a result of the alleged defect.” The Court further explained that Plaintiffs’ damages expert, who calculated the cost to replace the cooling units, did nothing to establish that “the Plaintiffs overpaid for their refrigerators, that their refrigerators have lost value, or that their refrigerators have lost usefulness.” As such, the Court concluded that the Plaintiffs could not establish any economic injury. 

Based on the extensive evidence developed in the litigation, the Court ultimately concluded that the Plaintiffs’ “injuries are more speculative than imminent” and that they therefore did not have standing to pursue their claims. The Court dismissed the case in its entirety, and subsequently closed the case, denying all pending motions, including the Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, as moot.

The Weil team was based in Miami and was led by partner Edward Soto, Co-Head of Weil’s global Complex Commercial Litigation practice and Managing Partner of the Firm’s Miami office, and included associates Lara Bach, Pravin Patel, Corey Brady, and Brian Liegel. Weil’s co-counsel on this case included Lash & Goldberg associate Erica Rutner.