Consumers allege that Graco Inc. improperly marketed its car booster seats can move forward with most of a consolidated proposed class action because the company made express representations about the effectiveness of the seats.

The proposed class has alleged that representations by Graco about how the seats work in side-impact collisions at least partly informed their purchasing decisions, and there’s enough evidence to let the case move forward at this stage of the litigation.

Atlanta-based Graco labeled, marketed and sold its booster seats as though they were safe for children as small as 30 pounds and as young as 3 years old and suggested that they met federal standards and offered more safety in side-impact collisions.The court rejected Graco’s argument that it wasn’t enough for consumers to claim they would have either purchased another type of seat or paid less for the Graco seat if they’d known that the marketing campaign wasn’t true.

It can reasonably be inferred that the sales pitch played a role in their purchasing decisions.

Judge May did dismiss a request for an injunction to stop Graco from marketing the booster seats as safe from side-impact collisions. None of the plaintiffs said they would buy the seat in the future, and their lack of intent to make future purchases deprives them of standing to pursue the injunction, the judge said.

Instead, the plaintiffs only claim that they wouldn’t have bought the booster seat or would have paid less for them if they’d known how the seat actually performed.

The 21 plaintiffs from 15 different states alleged they were misled by Graco’s assertions that its booster seats are safe for children weighing as little as 30 pounds, and that they are “side-impact tested.”

Graco is arguing in its defense that 30 pounds is the regulatory minimum standard for booster seats, and that there is no federal requirement for side-impact testing and nothing wrong with its own testing.

Cases were brought nationwide against Graco in the first half of 2020 and consolidated in Georgia, where the company is based. The plaintiffs are hoping to get class certification, with sub-classes for plaintiffs in different states.


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