Lawsuit Alleges Lawnmower Horsepower FraudAug 1, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
A class action lawsuit was recently filed in New Jersey charging that manufacturers of lawnmowers have purposely misstated horsepower valuations on their products in order to justify higher prices. The lawnmower horsepower fraud class action lawsuit alleges that the major retailers and manufacturers of lawnmowers have conspired for the past decade to mislead consumers.
Defendants in the lawsuit include Sears & Roebuck Co., Briggs & Stratton, Deere & Co., Tecumseh Products Co., Briggs & Stratton Corp., Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA., MTD Products, The Toro Co., American Honda Motor Co., Electrolux Home Products, The Kohler Co., Platinum Equity LLC, and Husqvarna Outdoor Products.
According to the lawnmower horsepower fraud class action lawsuit, the defendants were all members of a "'Power Labeling Task Force," which met sometime in 2001 and discussed various means by which to conceal horsepower fraud and misrepresent horsepower to the consuming public. One of the suggestions made by this group was to include a misleading 'disclaimer' on the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, (OPEI) Web site. The disclaimer was titled 'Understanding Horsepower' and included misleading information on horsepower issues.
The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants created a "labeling standard" called "SAE J1940" to conceal horsepower fraud. This labeling standard was an attempt to justify the labeling of lawnmower engines with a false horsepower value. According to the lawsuit, SAE standard "allowed for a 'fudge factor' of up to 15% to be added to horsepower labels."
Finally, the lawnmower horsepower fraud class action lawsuit claims that defendants also adopted "gross horsepower" standard, "SAE J1995," which has no real-world relevance in order to deceive consumers about the true horsepower of their lawnmowers. According to the complaint, the SAE J1995 uses "the theoretical horsepower that an engine could achieve under ideal laboratory conditions with all of the legally required accessories removed from the engine - such as the air filter and exhaust mechanism."