Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Industry standards don't define terms for false advertising purposes

Wayne-Dalton Corp. v. Amarr Co., 2008 WL 1930786 (N.D. Ohio)

The parties make garage doors. Both are members of a trade association, DASMA, which has voluntary safety standards. One of the standards tests for “pinch resistance” as the door moves on its track. Plaintiff alleged false advertising of pinch resistance. Because the court viewed “pinch resistant” as an ambiguous statement, and because plaintiff had no evidence of actual deception, the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Moreover, the court found laches: plaintiff had constructive knowledge of the ads for over two years before suing, and couldn’t meet its burden of overcoming a presumption of laches.

The court denied plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. Plaintiff relied on arguments that defendant’s doors failed to meet DASMA’s standard, but that alone wasn’t enough to establish the meaning of “pinch resistant” in the market. Plaintiff also argued that a jury should be allowed to decide what pinch resistant means, but Sixth Circuit precedent holds that the court should determine ambiguity of a statement as a matter of law; whether facts exist to justify the statement is a question of fact for a jury.

No comments: