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From Products Liability Law Daily, November 9, 2018

Class action suit alleges design defect in Skechers’ light-up shoes for children

By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.

A New York mother filed a putative class action lawsuit in a federal district court in New York against Skechers U.S.A., Inc. (Skechers) asserting that the company’s line of light-up sneakers for children were defective and that the company failed to warn consumers of the dangers posed by the shoes’ defective design (Foster v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc., November 7, 2018).

The named plaintiff purchased a pair of Skechers S-Lights shoes (part of the SLF Collections) for her nine-year-old son. The shoe, as described by the manufacturer, featured a "pod design midsole with bright lights" that "chase and blink with every step." The light mechanism in the shoe contained a Ni-Cad battery, which the manufacturer promoted as "nothing harmful or reactive." The plaintiff’s son regularly wore the sneakers for approximately three months with no issues. However, in late June 2018, after wearing the shoes to a school celebration, the plaintiff’s son complained of pain in his feet. Upon inspection, the child’s feet were red and burned. After examining the child’s shoes, the plaintiff noted that the light up feature was no longer operational. A doctor diagnosed the child with second degree chemical burns on his feet. The plaintiff reported her son’s injuries from wearing the sneakers to the manufacturer who offered to replace the shoes for free.

The plaintiff alleges that the manufacturer knew of the design defects in its shoes and began quietly replacing the defective sneakers in early 2017 while continually denying publicly any defects in its product.

Complaint. The named plaintiff brings her complaint on behalf of herself and others who have purchased defective battery-operated light-up sneakers designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold by the manufacturer. The complaint asserts various claims sounding in strict liability design defect, failure to warn, and negligence along with violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, breach of express warranty by description, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of implied warranty for fitness for particular purpose, unjust enrichment, and negligent misrepresentation.

The complaint alleges that the manufacturer’s SLF Collections of light up shoes for children were defective in design when they left the manufacturer’s control and that the foreseeable risk of the product exceeded the benefits associated with its design, and that the shoes was more dangerous than an ordinary consumer would have expected. As a direct result of the manufacturer placing the dangerous goods in the stream of commerce, the plaintiffs suffered harm, damage, and economic loss. The plaintiff further contended that the manufacturer was aware of the defective conditions and failed to warn consumers or provide adequate instructions for the safe use of the shoes.

As to the negligence claim, the complaint asserts that the manufacturer had a duty to exercise reasonable care in the design, manufacturing, testing, marketing, and distribution of the product into the stream of commerce. The manufacturer breached that duty by continuing to market and sell the defective footwear and failing to adequately warn consumers of the risk of serious bodily injury if the Ni-Cad batteries inside the shoes become damaged and/or leaked.

Relief sought. The complaint demands a jury trial, seeks certification of the class, and the appointment of the named plaintiff as the class representative along with seeking actual compensatory damages, exemplary damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest court, restitution and/or disgorgement of the manufacturer’s ill-gotten gains, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

The case is No. 1:18-cv-10351.

Attorneys: Hillary Mara Nappi (Tilem & Associates, PC) for Sherry Foster.

Companies: Skechers USA, Inc.

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