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Judge Allows Class Action Lawsuit over Graco Car Seat Buckles to Proceed

Dec 22, 2014

A class action lawsuit against car-seat maker Graco Children’s Products over allegedly defective car seat buckles can move forward, a California judge ruled. According to the March 2013 lawsuit, the belt buckles can become so gunked with food, juice and vomit that they will not open. This defect can result in harm to the child during an emergency.

Graco recalled 3.7 million toddler seats in February and another 1.9 million car seats were added in July. Early this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the recall to determine if Graco waited too long to act on the issue. “The department is committed to ensuring that parents have peace of mind knowing that the car seat in which they are placing their child and their trust is safe and reliable,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, according to The Detroit News. “Any delays by a manufacturer in meeting their obligations to report safety issues with the urgency they deserve, especially those that impact the well-being of our children, erodes that trust and is absolutely unacceptable.”

In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Graco argued that plaintiffs should not be able to file a claim because they were offered a refund and a recall had been issued. Graco argued that subject matter jurisdiction does not exist in this case because the Plaintiff was offered full monetary compensation on two occasions.

U.S. District Judge James Donato disagreed, and denied the motion. The claims under the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law, and for breach of implied warranty under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act could proceed, the judge ruled. Judge Donato rejected Graco’s argument and stated that the company never actually proved that they truly offered the plaintiff a refund. The company therefore failed to establish the factual predicate to its jurisdiction attack, the judge ruled.

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