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Class Actions are a difficult process. Especially those alleging consumer fraud alleging misrepresentations of the product. The problem is having the facts of the “representative plaintiffs” be a fair sampling of the class-wide issues that “predominate” over individual issues. In a recent matter concerning heart rate monitors built into gym equipment, such as treadmills and exercise bicycles, the Court denied the class action status. Mednick v. Precor Inc., No. 1:14-cv-03624.
Plaintiffs claimed that Precor misrepresented the performance of heart-rate monitors on its exercise equipment. Plaintiffs alleged the heart-rate monitors were defective because movement could prevent the monitors from accurately measuring heart rates.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all individuals who purchased any of Precor’s 20 exercise machines, each with any one of three heart-rate monitoring systems.
Plaintiffs’ expert, a biomedical engineer, evaluated results of one person who used three different Precor treadmills to measure the performance of the heart-rate monitors. However, he admitted different body shapes and chemistry could produce different results. This “sample” of results was not scientific proofs that the exercise machines would not function properly.
The failure to use a wide sampling of class members to evaluate the machine’s performance made the expert’s conclusions were “mere speculation.”
Additionally, the court emphasized that the expert did not have evidence to leap from the conclusion “the user’s movement can change the results of heart-rate monitors” to “the heart-rate monitors cannot compensate for user’s movements, rendering the machines defective.”
The user differences (male/female/body size) created individual questions of fact that outweighed the common issues. The court noted that it “would require individualized inquiry into each user, each type of machine and each heart rate system at issue” to determine whether the heart-rate monitors failed to compensate for user’s movements.
This decision highlights the importance of evaluating whether class-wide issues predominate when opposing class certification. This issue may mirror the argument regarding whether the experts’ samples can represent the class as a whole.