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Ramos v. Playtex Products

August 27, 2008

GRISSELLE RAMOS, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PLAYTEX PRODUCTS, INC., RC2 CORPORATION, LEARNING CURVE BRANDS, INC., AND MEDELA, INC., DEFENDANTS.
DINA SCALIA, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PLAYTEX PRODUCTS, INC., RC2 CORPORATION, LEARNING CURVE BRANDS, INC., AND MEDELA, INC., DEFENDANTS.
JESSICA SMITH, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PLAYTEX PRODUCTS, INC., RC2 CORPORATION, LEARNING CURVE BRANDS, INC., AND MEDELA, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan H. Lefkow

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On May 9, 2008, plaintiff Grisselle Ramos filed a complaint on behalf of herself and a putative class of other similarly situated individuals against defendants Playtex Products, Inc. ("Playtex"), RC2 Corporation ("RC2"), Learning Curve Brands, Inc. ("Learning Curve"),*fn1 and Medela, Inc. ("Medela") (collectively, "defendants") in case No. 08 C 2703 (the "Ramos Action"). Subsequently, plaintiffs Dina Scalia and Jessica Smith each filed separate but essentially identical putative class actions against the same defendants, in cases Nos. 08 C 2828 (the "Scalia Action") and 08 C 3352 (the "Smith Action"), respectively. On June 10 and 27, 2008, the court granted the parties' motions to reassign and consolidate the Scalia and Smith actions with the Ramos action.

Plaintiffs*fn2 allege that they each purchased one or more of a certain type of product from the defendants: coolers/carrying cases constructed from vinyl plastic that are made for storing breast milk ("cooler carriers").*fn3 Plaintiffs allege that the vinyl plastic from which these products were constructed contains lead.

According to the complaints, the Center for Environmental Health ("CEH"), an environmental group based in California, determined that defendants' cooler carriers contained high levels of lead and recommended that parents discard the vinyl coolers and vinyl cases used for storing milk, or other infant products. Plaintiffs further allege that, despite the CEH's report, defendants have not offered to reimburse plaintiffs or the class for the costs of the cooler carriers. Plaintiffs note, however, that "[a]t one time, Defendant (Medela) offered to replace the product, but only at some undetermined date." Ramos Compl. ¶ 5.

Plaintiffs assert the same claims against all three defendants: unfair and deceptive acts and practices (Count I), breach of implied warranty of merchantability (Count II), negligence (Count III), and unjust enrichment (Count IV).

The parties have filed a multitude of motions, many of which concern the same issues or are otherwise redundant. The instant memorandum opinion will address the following motions:

(1) defendant Medela's motion to sever claims against Medela [#26];

(2) defendant Playtex's motion to sever claims against Playtex [#65];

(3) plaintiffs' motion to strike defendant Medela's answers and defenses [#43];

(4) defendant Medela's motion for entry of a case management order pursuant to Rule 16(c)(12) [#46];

(5) defendant Playtex's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for lack of standing or, in the alternative, for more definite statement [#62];

(6) defendants RC2 and Learning Curve's motion to dismiss plaintiff's class action complaints [#68]; and

(7) plaintiffs' motion for leave to file their consolidated amended complaint [#86].

All of these motions except for the last, which was noticed for presentment on August 28, 2008, appear to be fully briefed.

I. Defendant Medela's Motion to Sever Claims Against Medela

Medela has moved pursuant to Rules 20 and 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to sever the claims against Medela from plaintiffs' claims against the other defendants. The other defendants have filed responses in support of Medela's motion, requesting that the claims against them also be severed from those against the other defendants.*fn4 Additionally, Playtex has separately filed its own motion to sever.

Under Rule 20, multiple defendants may be joined in one action if both (a) the plaintiffs' claims against them "aris[e] out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences," and (b) "any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2). Rule 21 provides that "[m]isjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action," but that "the court may . . . sever any claim against a party." Fed. R. Civ. P. 21.

Medela contends that the claims against it are not properly joined with the claims against the other three defendants-RC2, Learning Curve, and Playtex-and that the plaintiffs "indiscriminately lump[ed] together all claims against all defendants." Dkt. No. 28, at 1. First, Medela argues that it is unrelated to the other defendants and that plaintiffs' claims*fn5 against Medela are not logically connected to the claims against the other defendants:

Defendants manufacture different products, have different marketing, and have different purchasers who have different children. Thus key factual and legal issues, such as whether there is exposure to lead, causation, and damages will be different for each defendant, each product, and each plaintiff.

Dkt. No. 28, at 1. Second, Medela argues that plaintiffs' claims against it do not raise any questions of law or fact ...


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