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Louisville Slugger is probably the most famous name in bat making. But a group of customers are suing the legendary brand, claiming it manufactured a defective bat and then tried to avoid liability by claiming the defect was intentional, to help customers improve their swings.
It's a novel approach, but will it be a home run in court?
Lead plaintiff in the case George Alea claims he bought the $400 Louisville Slugger Prime BBCOR for his son, who noticed that the handle of the bat moved independently from the barrel when he swung it. When Alea tried to have it replaced under the warranty, the company told him that the movement was normal.
Later, according to the lawsuit, Louisville Slugger changed its advertising, claiming the bat's "TRU3 Dynamic Socket Connection allows for slight movement between the barrel and handle to further maximize barrel trampoline effect and eliminate negative vibration." Instead, Alea and other plaintiffs assert that the defect made it less effective for hitting, and Louisville Slugger -- and its parent company Wilson -- were merely attempting to skirt liability for the defective bat under the warranty:
Defendants have known of the Defect for an extended period of time due to direct customer complaints and numerous Internet complaints. Rather than honor its warranty and replace the Bats with non-defective bats of equivalent value, Defendants took the unorthodox approach of creating a post-hoc marketing regime focusing on (and, indeed, promoting) the Defect, as if it were deliberate, as opposed to a Defect. Defendants used this disingenious [sic] change in their marketing jargon as a basis to deny warranty coverage to Plaintiff and the Class. This Court should not countenance Defendants' conduct; Defendants' should be held accountable for their actions and required to provide Plaintiff and members of the Class non-defective bats or a refund of the purchase price.
After several pages of transcribed buyer complaints about the bat, the lawsuit accuses Wilson and Louisville Slugger of violating consumer protection laws in Florida, California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, as well as breach of warranty and unjust enrichment. Alea and the rest of the plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement for the faulty bats, along with attorneys' fees.