Court Tosses Consumer’s Samsung Galaxy S7 “Water Resistant” Marketing Suit

On Jan. 29, plaintiff Jill Clark’s putative class action on behalf of New Jersey Galaxy S7 buyers against defendant Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (Samsung) was dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction. The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss finding that the plaintiff failed to meet each of the three elements necessary for Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) jurisdiction. The court also upheld a stipulation the parties entered into prohibiting the plaintiff from making additional amendments, and, in turn, denied leave to amend.

According to the opinion, Samsung began selling its popular Galaxy S7 series of cell phones in 2016. It marketed them as resistant to water damage in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Its national advertising campaign reportedly featured users pouring champagne onto a Galaxy S7, dunking it in, or spraying it with water, and using it while engaged in water-based sports.

Upon seeing these advertisements, the plaintiff was reportedly enticed to purchase one, and did in December 2017. However, when the plaintiff exposed the phone to water, it would malfunction, sometimes causing her to have to restart the phone entirely. When the plaintiff contacted Samsung about these issues, the defendant allegedly did nothing. 

The consumer contends that Samsung knew about the phones’ defective water-resistant design by advertised it to the contrary anyway. Her complaint brought state law fraud, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment claims.

As the court noted, “[t]his case has a long and complicated procedural history” between federal courts in New Jersey and California. Samsung’s motion to dismiss, decided this week, requested dismissal of the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint on behalf of a putative class of New Jersey cell phone buyers severed from the California action.

The court first discussed CAFA’s jurisdictional mandates. The opinion explained that though the plaintiff had satisfied the numerosity rule, she failed to satisfy the minimal diversity and the amount in controversy requirements. As for the contested amount, the court concluded that the second amended complaint alone did not permit it to estimate the value of the claims of putative class members because the filing failed to supply the underlying data, like how much consumers paid for the phones.

The court further held that under the parties’ stipulation, the plaintiff was not entitled to try again. The court reasoned that “[a]llowing yet another amendment of the Complaint at this stage of the litigation would be essentially punishing Defendant for consenting to the filing of the [second amended complaint] in the first place.” It added that undermining an enforceable stipulation would be detrimental to the parties’ confidence in the judicial system and the efficient use of judicial resources.

The plaintiff is represented by Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP and Samsung by Greenberg Traurig, LLP.