WDMA Urges Supreme Court to Hear Class Action Appeal

October 15, 2010

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to hear an appeal filed by the Pella Corp. over a class action case involving one of its window products. 

Pella's appeal challenges a decision made earlier by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court in the case of Pella Corp. v. Saltzman. That decision significantly loosens the criteria that must be met before a court can grant class action status based on an alleged product defect, WDMA officials state.

According to WDMA, the decision essentially removes the requirement that multiple claims of damage must be shown to result from the same common cause before the claims can be consolidated into a class action. This severely undermines legal protections that guard against abusive uses of class action provisions under federal law and increases the risk of frivolous class action lawsuits against any manufacturer in any industry, the association argues.

"The Seventh Circuit decision makes manufacturers in this industry, and any company that manufactures a product for sale in the U.S. for that matter, more vulnerable to unwarranted and potentially devastating class action lawsuits," says Steve Sisson, VP and GM of Karona Inc., current WDMA chairman. "We believe the Seventh Circuit made very bad law here and want to do everything we can to urge the Supreme Court to review the decision and ultimately get it reversed, which is why we filed this amicus brief today."

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the bar for establishing class action status is intentionally set high because such lawsuits have the potential for putting companies and entire industries out of business.  WDMA filed the amicus brief jointly with other trade groups including the National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Manufacturers and, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, arguing the Seventh Circuit decision disregards that bar and paves the way for unjustified class action lawsuits to be launched against manufacturers. That is extremely harmful to manufacturers, the economy, and ultimately to consumers.