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From Products Liability Law Daily, November 26, 2013
By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.
A federal district court in Washington approved a final settlement of a class action suit that would provide for class members to receive a new Werner attic replacement ladder. The court also approved attorney fees and costs, along with a service award to the class representative (Clemans v. New Werner, November 22, 2013, Leighton, R.).
Background. The class action suit alleged that beginning in 2003, New Werner Co. and Lowe’s Company, Inc., manufactured and/or distributed a steel “Easy Access Attic Ladder” in Model Numbers S2208 and S2210 which contained defective zinc hinges that were prone to breaking and shearing while the ladder was being used and, as a result, was not safe to use. The suit further alleged that the defendants were aware of the defect and concealed it from consumers.
Werner and Lowe’s both maintained that they did not manufacture the ladders, asserting that the ladders were made by a defunct company that properly went through bankruptcy and discharged any liability with respect to the ladders. The defendants further argued that the ladders were not defective and that any product failures consumers experienced were caused by improper installation or usage. Lastly, the defendants maintained that they were unaware of the alleged defect. The parties have resolved the dispute and entered into a settlement agreement, which was preliminarily approved in July 2013.
Settlement agreement. Under the approved settlement agreement, Lloyd Clemans, the plaintiff and class representative, and class members will be entitled to receive a new Werner attic replacement ladder. In addition, the agreement will pay reasonable attorney fees and costs, along with a reasonable service award to the class representative. In approving the agreement, the court indicated that the agreement did not constitute an admission or concession by the parties involved of any liability, fault, or wrongdoing and did not release any personal injury claims. The court approved the settlement because it was fair and reasonable and was widely supported by the class members with only four opting out of the settlement agreement.
The case number is 3:12-cv-05186.
Attorneys: Kim D. Stephens (Tousley Brain Stephens, PLLC); Frank L. Watson, III (Watson Burns, PLLC); Paul C. Peel (Farris Bobango, PLC); Stewart D. Matthews (S. D. Matthews & Associates) for Plaintiff. Fred Burnside (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP); Christopher M. Murphy (McDermott Will & Emery) for Defendants.
Companies: New Werner Co.; New Werner Holding Co.; Lowe’s Companies, Inc.; Lowe’s Home Center, Inc.
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