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Appeals court rejects class action against maker of recalled Aqua Dots toy


CHICAGO—A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling denying class action certification for a product liability case against the makers of the toy Aqua Dots.

In affirming the lower court’s decision, a three-judge panel of 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a class action suit against the toymaker would not adequately serve the best interest of the class, according to court documents.

Aqua Dots, which allows children to devise different shapes using small colored beads that adhere to one another when sprayed with water, was recalled by Toronto-based distributor Spin Master Ltd. in 2007 after several children who ingested the product became ill, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Plaintiffs not harmed

The plaintiffs—purchasers of Aqua Dots whose children were not harmed—challenged the product recall, citing state consumer protection statutes, and sought full refunds under federal law as well as punitive damages, according to court documents.

While the appeals court panel upheld last year’s U.S. district court ruling denying class action certification, it disagreed with the lower court’s rationale.

In the appeal’s court’s decision, Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook wrote, “Although the district court’s rationale is mistaken, it does not follow that the court’s decision is wrong.”

The lower court judge noted that the plaintiffs sought to “duplicate a remedy” that most product purchasers had received through the recall notice.

“A representative who proposes that high transaction costs (notice and attorneys’ fees) be incurred at the class members’ expense to obtain a refund that already is on offer is not adequately protecting the class members’ interests,” Judge Easterbrook said in the appeals court’s decision.

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