Wilson Hopes Class Action Suit Will be a Swing and a Miss

On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, Wilson Sporting Goods Co. asked an Illinois Federal Court to dismiss a putative class action suit involving their DeMarini youth baseball bats. The original suit was filed in April by parent Theodore Sheeley. Sheeley purchased a DeMarini youth baseball bat for his son who plays in leagues and tournaments in which all bats must follow USSSA standards. The DeMarini bat Sheeley purchased included the all-important silver sticker, which is reserved for bats that meet all USSSA regulations. Sheeley argues that the bats do not meet the standards and that he and others are left with bats that cannot be used in the diamond.

Sheeley believes the bats were specifically marked and advertised as bats that were acceptable under the regulations, leading to consumers relying on the silver stickers when making their decision on which bats to purchase. Exacerbating consumer frustration of being left with bats unfit for play, the DeMarini models are some of Wilson’s priciest, with some bats being over $350. Wilson offered consumers various replacement options, nevertheless, the suit states that Wilson refuses to give monetary compensation. Mr. Sheeley is representing a nationwide class of people who purchased these allegedly defective bats in the applicable time period as well as a smaller class of people in Illinois. The suit’s main claims include violations of consumer protection laws and breach of express and implied warranty. Sheeley ultimately is seeking compensatory damages.

Wilson has responded asking the Illinois court to dismiss the suit because the complaint lacks important detail. According to Wilson, Sheeley has omitted or failed to include the specific model of bat in the suit, the date of purchase, the place of purchase, or the specific retail outlet in which he bought the bat. He also fails to explain how the bats do not meet USSSA standards.

Responding to the alleged breach of warranty, Wilson claims this complaint is invalid because the supposedly defected bats were purchased from retailers and not from Wilson directly, which would not meet the standard of direct privity under Illinois law. Wilson argued further that the Illinois law does not even play a central role, saying that the court would have to apply 50 different state law structures to consumer fraud and warranty claims which has deemed inappropriate by Seventh Circuit precedent. Ultimately, Wilson hopes the court considers the suit a swing and a miss.

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