Brother International Defeats National Toner Class Action Lawsuit

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Brother International Defeats National Toner Class Action Lawsuit

 news 2015-06-22 at 1:00:43 pm Views: 375
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    Brother International Defeats National Toner Class Action Lawsuit

    COSTA MESA, Calif.–()–Partners Layne Melzer and Karen Scott, with Rutan & Tucker, LLP, California’s largest full-service law firm based in Orange County, recently achieved a major victory for their client, Brother International Corporation (“BIC”), the distributor of Brother-brand products in the U.S. A federal district court in New Jersey granted summary judgment in favor of BIC and against all four named plaintiffs and would-be class representatives. Dicuio v. Brother Int’l Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68029 (D.N.J. May 27, 2015).

    This class action lawsuit was filed in 2011 by plaintiffs alleging that all purchasers of certain models of Brother-brand color laser printers were “damaged” by a variety of “inadequately disclosed” design features which, according to plaintiffs, caused the printers to use color toner at a higher rate than consumers might expect and require toner replacement before each cartridge delivered its advertised yield.

    Plaintiffs tried to substantiate their claims by reviewing thousands of documents produced by BIC, deposing BIC’s key officers and retaining experts. Plaintiffs moved to certify a national class suing BIC under New Jersey’s consumer protection, the state where BIC is headquartered.

    BIC opposed the motion for class certification and also moved for summary judgment based on evidence from plaintiffs’ deposition testimony and data captured by plaintiffs’ printers. That evidence showed that plaintiffs’ color toner cartridges had performed as advertised. Brother-brand toner cartridges are advertised as capable of printing a particular number of pages at 5% average toner coverage. This advertising, in turn, is based on testing performed under an industry-standard protocol published by the International Standards Organization.

    The District Court agreed that even after years of discovery, plaintiffs had no evidence that Brother-brand printers do not work as advertised. Specifically, there was no evidence that plaintiffs’ color toner cartridges failed to deliver their advertised page yield. In testing conducted by experts, Brother-brand color toner cartridges met or exceeded their advertised page yield. The District Court declined to decide the motion for class certification, having already determined that all four proposed class representatives lacked any injury and, consequently, lacked standing to sue.

    Plaintiffs presented a variety of theories for measuring their alleged damages, all of which were rejected by the District Court. At one point, plaintiffs claimed that all buyers failed to realize as much as 75% of the promised yield for their color toner cartridges, a claim that equates to about $200 million in damages.

    This most recent victory is just one of a series of victories that Rutan has secured for BIC. In 2010, this same New Jersey District Court judge dismissed another class action lawsuit against BIC, rejecting allegations that consumers who receive the advertised page yield are “damaged” if some toner remains in a cartridge upon replacement. Arcand v. Brother Int’l Corp., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103942 (D.N.J. Sept. 29, 2010). Also in 2010, a California District Court refused to certify a class alleging that BIC failed to adequately disclose certain printer design features that could affect toner consumption. Kandel v. Brother Int’l Corp., 264 F.R.D. 630 (C.D. Cal. 2010). That same California District Court had ruled earlier that would-be class action plaintiffs and their lawyers were liable to pay BIC $100,000 in attorneys’ fees based on litigation tactics, a result upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Richardson v. Brother Int’l Corp., 400 Fed. Appx. 284 (9th Cir. 2010).