In a class certification issue, Arkansas suit moved to Connecticut.

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Aug 8, 2007

TEXARKANA, ARK. -- The Arkansas Supreme Court granted a defendants' motion to move jurisdiction from the Arkansas Miller County Circuit Court to Connecticut.

Texarkana, Ark., attorney John Goodson, filed on behalf of plaintiff Bobby Faye Grammer, individually and a class representative, the original complaint against Sunbeam Products, Inc. on December 30, 2004.

Plaintiffs stated that the defendants "designed, manufactured, sold, and distributed" heating blankets and pads that they allege "will fail rendering them unusable and likely to ignite fires."

According to the lawsuit, as many as 30 million products were sold with defects.

Taking it to the Arkansas Supreme Court, Sunbeam defendants appealed Judge Jim Hudson's previously denied motions and his certification of a nation-wide class.

In support of Sunbeam, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed an amicus curiae brief. The Southeast Texas Record is owned by the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber's brief states that "the Circuit Courts decision [certifying nation-wide class] suggests that multi-state class actions are easily certifiable under Arkansas law because courts need not consider potential legal variations at the certification state."

The brief also states that the "circuit court erred in finding choice-of law issues irrelevant to the class certification inquiry" and then the "court compounded this error, by suggesting that, even if it did examine the question of what law applied to the class claims' such an inquiry likely would not preclude class certification."

The Arkansas Supreme Court agreed the lower court was wrong. The joint motion to stay appeal and reinvest jurisdiction in the court in Connecticut was granted.

Case No. 2004-407-2

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