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Coe v. Philips Oral Healthcare Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

October 14, 2014

AMY COE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PHILIPS ORAL HEALTHCARE INC., Defendant.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DENY CLASS CERTIFICATION AND MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

MARSHA J. PECHMAN, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's motion to deny certification of a nationwide class under the Washington Consumer Protection Act (Dkt. No. 69) and motion for partial summary judgment on Plaintiffs' fifth and sixth causes of action (Dkt. No. 102). Having reviewed the motions, Plaintiffs' responses (Dkt. Nos. 83, 111), and Defendant's replies (Dkt. Nos. 87, 113), and all related papers, the Court GRANTS the motion to deny class certification and GRANTS the motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's sixth cause of action. Plaintiffs' fifth cause of action is DISMISSED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Background

This putative class action seeks damages and equitable relief for purchasers of Defendant's allegedly defective Sonicare Diamond Clean, FlexCare, FlexCare, Healthy White, EasyClean, and Sonicare for Kids powered toothbrushes and related replacement parts (collectively, the "Toothbrushes"). (Dkt. Nos. 20, 90.)

The suit began when Plaintiff Amy Coe filed a class action on behalf of Toothbrush purchasers citing, among other things, breach of Washington and New Jersey state law. (Dkt. No. 1.) Approximately two months later, Plaintiffs Sam Chawla and Lance Ng filed a separate action with similar claims under Washington, Connecticut, and New York state law. Chawla v. Philips Oral Healthcare, Inc., No. 13-cv-875-MJP, Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiffs Coe, Chawla, and Ng then filed a consolidated complaint incorporating all claims. (Dkt. No. 20).

Defendant asks the Court to preemptively deny certification of a single nationwide class under Washington law, and to grant summary judgment on Plantiff Chawla's Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act claim, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a et seq. (Dkt. No. 20 at 39) and Plaintiff Ng's claim under New York's General Business Law §§ 349, 350 (Dkt. No. 20 at 42). Defendant argues that under Washington's choice-of-law rules, the laws of the consumers' home states, and not Washington law, must apply to their claims. (Dkt. No. 69 at 7-8.) Defendant also argues the claims of Plaintiffs Ng and Chawla are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. (Dkt. No. 102 at 3-10.) Plaintiffs contend Washington law applies, certification is appropriate, and Plaintiffs' claims are not time-barred. (Dkt. Nos. 83, 111.)

Discussion

I. Legal Standards

A. Class Certification

"A class action may be maintained if two conditions are met - the suit must satisfy the criteria set forth in subdivision (a) (i.e., numerosity, commonality, typicality and adequacy of representation), and it must also fit into one of the three categories described in subdivision (b)." Bateman v. Am. Multi-Cinema, Inc. , 623 F.3d 708, 712 (9th Cir. 2010). Certification in this matter is sought under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3), which necessitates a finding that common questions of law or fact predominate and that maintaining the suit as a class action is superior to other methods of adjudication. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3). Class certification is proper if and only if "the trial court is satisfied, after a rigorous analysis, " that Plaintiffs have met their burden under Rule 23. Wal-mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes , 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2551 (2011).

B. Choice of Law

A federal court sitting in diversity applies the choice-of-law rules of its forum state to determine which substantive law controls. Atl. Marine Const. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Ct. for W. Dist. of Tex. , 134 S.Ct. 568, 582 (2013). Washington uses a two-step approach to choice-of-law questions. Kelley v. Microsoft Corp. , 251 F.R.D. 544, 550 (W.D. Wash. 2008). First, courts determine whether an actual conflict between Washington and other applicable state law exists. Id . A conflict exists when the various states' laws could produce different outcomes on the same legal issue. Id . In the absence of a conflict, Washington law applies. Id . If a conflict exists, courts then determine the forum or fora that have the "most significant relationship" to the action to determine the applicable law. Id.

C. Summary Judgment

Federal Rule 56(a) provides that the court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether a factual dispute requiring trial exists, the court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). All material facts alleged by the nonmoving party are assumed to ...


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