A federal court in California has ruled on three motions in a putative class action against Conair Corp. over allegedly faulty hair dryers, granting the plaintiff leave to amend the complaint a second time and denying several of Conair’s motions, including motions to strike the plaintiff’s request for nationwide class certification. Czuchaj v. Conair Corp., No. 13-1901 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Cal., orders entered April 16, 2014).
Originally filed in August 2013 and amended the following December, the lawsuit stems from the apparent malfunction of plaintiff’s Conair hair dryer, which allegedly emanated flames and ejected hot coils during use. Conair filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that plaintiff Cynthia Czuchaj lacked standing because she failed to file a warranty claim to redress the only damage asserted in the complaint, the loss of the cost of the Conair product. The court rejected Conair’s arguments because it granted Czuchaj leave to amend the claims, and Czuchaj had asserted that the amended complaint would detail more extensive damages than just the hair dryer’s cost.
Conair also argued that the plaintiff failed to meet the heightened pleading standard for fraud and concealment. While the court granted Conair’s motion to dismiss those claims, it also allowed the plaintiff leave to amend, directing her to remove any alle- gations of fraudulent misrepresentation and to further detail assertions that Conair had exclusive knowledge of the defect to support the concealment claim. Finding insufficient facts to support plaintiff’s active concealment claims under California law, the court granted Conair’s motion to dismiss while again granting the plaintiff leave to amend, but denied Conair’s similar motions to dismiss active concealment claims under Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York law for Conair’s failure to state the basis for dismissal under those states’ laws.
Finally, the court denied Conair’s motion to strike nationwide class allegations because the decision on that question was premature. Conair cited Mazza v. American Honda Motor Co. to support its contention that “nationwide classes based on California law are not proper and should be denied,” but the court pointed to Mazza’s detailed choice-of-law analysis, suggesting that a similar exploration may be necessary to determine whether to certify the nation-wide class. Without enough detail on the record to conduct such an analysis, the court denied Conair’s motions to strike the nationwide class allegations in the claims brought under California law and the claim asserted under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.