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Gorczynski v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

October 18, 2019

THOMAS P. GORCZYNSKI, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ELECTROLUX HOME PRODUCTS, INC., SUPER K CORPORATION d/b/a ABC DISCOUNT APPLIANCES, MIDEA AMERICA CORP., MIDEA MICROWAVE AND ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES MANUFACTURING CO., LTD., AND ABC CORPS. 1-10, Defendants.

          SALTZ, MONGELUZZI, BARRETT & BENDESKY, P.C. By: Simon B. Paris, Esq.; Patrick Howard, Esq.; Charles J. Kochner, Esq. Counsel for Plaintiff Thomas P. Gorczynski

          K&L GATES LLP By: Patrick J. Perrone, Esq.; Loly G. Tor, Esq.; Michael S. Nelson, Esq. Counsel for Defendant Electrolux Home Products, Inc.

          WARD GREENBERG HELLER & REIDY, LLP By: Gerhard P. Dietrich, Esq.; Gabrielle A. Giombetti, Esq. Counsel for Defendant Midea America Corp.

          OPINION [DKT. NOS. 69, 70]

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Thomas P. Gorczynski (“Plaintiff”) brings this putative class action, alleging that Defendants Electrolux Home Products, Inc. (“Electrolux”) and Midea America Corp. (“Midea USA”)(together, “Defendants”) knowingly manufactured, marketed, and sold microwaves with defective handles in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”), N.J.S.A. § 56:8-2. Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Electrolux violated the Magnuson-Moss Consumer Products Warranties Act (“MMWA”), 15 U.S.C. § 2301, et seq., and breached the implied warranty of merchantability. On April 29, 2019, this Court issued an Opinion (the “April 29 Opinion”)[Dkt. No. 67], denying Defendants' motions to dismiss [Dkt. Nos. 35, 47].

         Now, Electrolux and Midea USA each move for reconsideration of this Court's April 29 Opinion to “correct a clear error of law or fact to prevent injustice.” For the reasons set forth herein, Midea USA's Motion for Reconsideration (the “Midea MFR”)[Dkt. No. 69] will be GRANTED, but Electrolux's Motion for Reconsideration (the “Electrolux MFR”)[Dkt. No. 70] will be DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In this putative class action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants designed, manufactured, and marketed over-the-range stainless-steel microwaves (the “Microwaves”) with defective stainless-steel handles that become excessively hot if an individual is cooking on a stovetop below (the “Handle Defect”). Plaintiff alleges that in May 2015, he purchased a Frigidaire Gallery Over-the-Range Microwave, which is a model that suffers from the Handle Defect. See Am. Compl., at ¶ 12.

         Plaintiff contends that the Microwaves in question, including his own, were manufactured by Midea Microwave China (“Midea China”)[1] and distributed by Electrolux in the United States. As alleged in the Amended Complaint, Midea USA is “the North American headquarters of Midea, the world's leading manufacturer of air conditioners and home appliances.” See id. at ¶ 26. Meanwhile, Electrolux “distributes products under a variety of brand names, including Electrolux, Electrolux ICON, Frigidaire Professional, Frigidaire Gallery, Frigidaire, Eureka, Kelvinator, Sanitaire, Tappan, and White-Westinghouse.” See Id. at ¶ 17.

         Plaintiff alleges that the Handle Defect causes the Microwaves' handles to reach temperatures as high as 200̊ Fahrenheit when a cooktop below is operating at full power. See Am. Compl., at ¶ 6. Because the high temperature of the handle can make it unsafe for an individual to open the Microwave door, Plaintiff claims that the Handle Defect renders the Microwave unreasonably dangerous and unfit for its intended purpose when the range below is being used. See id. at ¶ 8.

         According to Plaintiff, Midea China became aware of the Handle Defect during testing in 2010, prior to distributing the Microwaves in the United States. See Am. Compl., at ¶ 6. Plaintiff further alleges that these test results were accessible to Electrolux as early as 2010, and customers complained about the Handle Defect as early as 2013, yet Electrolux continued to sell the Microwaves throughout the United States, with over 70, 000 sales in New Jersey. Id. Plaintiff contends that, despite full knowledge of the Handle Defect, Defendants have neither rectified the issue (through repair or replacement of the handle) nor warned consumers about the existence of the Handle Defect.

         Plaintiff filed the initial complaint [Dkt. No. 1-1], individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, in the New Jersey Superior Court, Camden County, in May 2018. Electrolux removed the case to this Court on June 15, 2018. Following a pre-motion letter filed by Electrolux, expressing an intent to file a motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed the Amended Complaint on August 6, 2018. This Court issued an Opinion and Order on April 29, 2019, denying the Defendants' motions to dismiss. Now, this matter comes before the Court upon motions for reconsideration, filed by Electrolux and Midea USA, asking this Court to reconsider its decision to deny their respective motions to dismiss.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD - MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

         Pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Civil Rule 7.1(i), a motion for reconsideration must be based on one of three grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) new evidence not previously available, or (3) a clear error of law or manifest ...


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