LOS ANGELES, CA—The trial law firm Carpenter & Zuckerman (CZ Law) recently won two appeals in a class action lawsuit against Polaris, Inc. with major implications on the future of California consumer protection cases in federal courts.
On September 29, 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena overruled a district court’s decisions in a class action lawsuit where plaintiffs claimed Polaris Inc., a motorsport manufacturing company, misrepresented the safety of the roll cages on the majority of their RZR and Ranger vehicles.
Plaintiffs Jeremy Albright and Paul Guzman, represented by CZ Law trial lawyer and class action attorney John Kristensen, contend Polaris falsely represented the strength of the roll cages of their vehicle. An old loophole permits manufacturers to “adopt” voluntary guidelines from manufacturer controlled interest groups. Instead of adopting the updated roof strength tests for automobiles requiring vehicle roofs to withstand three times their gross vehicle weight, Polaris claimed to adopt a 1972 standard for farm tractors. Then Polaris didn’t comply with its higher strength requirement based on horsepower. Yet, they sold the public that their roofs were up to the OSHA standards.
“Polaris sold UTVS to the public claiming the roll cages complied with an OSHA standard when they did not,” said Kristensen. “They are substantially weaker. It’s like telling customers the vehicle has a five-star safety rating when it’s really two-stars.”
The Ninth Circuit Court also ruled that the claim from one of the cases under California’s Unfair Competition Law, which prohibits false advertising, could proceed in state court. This ruling now sets a precedent allowing future cases based on California consumer protections to proceed in federal courts.
Albright and Guzman first filed the lawsuit in August 2019 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California seeking to represent a class of California residents who purchased Polaris UTVs with labels stating that their roll cages met OSHA standards.
The plaintiffs will be seeking $200 million to $300 million in damages against Polaris at the trials.