A federal court in California has denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in litigation alleging that companies making and selling clothing for infants and children knew that the ink used on new tagless labels could cause adverse skin reactions but failed to inform the public of that risk. Webb v. Carter’s, Inc., No. 08-7367 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., order entered February 2, 2011). According to the court, the members of the proposed class do not have Article III standing. So ruling, it rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that all members of the proposed classes, including those whose children did not experience an adverse reaction, had suffered an injury in that they “paid good money for garments that were defective and not fit for market.”
Noting that “the overwhelming majority of children who wore the garments suffered no adverse effects and Plaintiffs have failed to show that the levels of chemicals in the clothes exceeded standards established by law,” the court refused to recognize a “paid good money” injury theory to support standing. The court said in this regard, “[F]or babies without sensitive skin, the families have enjoyed the full benefit of the clothes and do not face a constant risk that the defect might cause some harm.” The court also discussed the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and determined how the plaintiffs failed to meet its elements as to predominance of common issues and the superiority of the class action device to adjudicate the claims.
As to the latter requirement, the court noted, “a class action is not superior because Carter’s is already offering the very relief that Plaintiffs seek: it allows consumers to obtain refunds for the garments, even without a receipt, and reimburses consumers for out-of-pocket medical costs for treating skin irritation resulting from the tagless labels. As noted, Carter’s will pay up to $250 for medical expenses without requiring any documentation.”