Mini-blinds conspiracy subject of class action

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 22, 2005, 2:01pm

Beware of your blinds!

Don't look now. But two Madison County apartment owners think your mini-blinds might strangle you.

Hoping to nip such a threat in the bud for all of us, Ronald Alsup of Edwardsville and Robert Crews of Granite City are leading a class action lawsuit against 62 mini-blinds makers and retailers.

They filed the lawsuit asking for in Madison County Circuit Court Feb. 18, represented by St. Louis plaintiff's attorney Jeffrey J. Lowe.

Last month, Lowe sued Merck and Walgreens in two Vioxx-related cases.

In Lowe's crosshairs this time are retail giants Ace Hardware, Big Lots, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Pier One Imports, and Super Dollar as well as three Taiwanese and one Canadian mini-blinds manufacturer.

At issue are mini-blind cord lengths. Lowe's complaint charges that any longer than 7 1/4 inches can form potentially deadly loops.

Lowe maintains that the mini-blinds should have warnings against "cord and inner cord loop strangulation" but do not, making their sale "deceptive" and part of a larger consipracy to defraud unwitting darkness-starved consumers.

“Each of the defendants’ conspired and agreed as agents, each to each other, to engage in a conscious course of conduct to lie, conceal, and misrepresent the hazards associated with corded mini-blinds," the complaint says.

The plaintiff and potential class are seeking damages of less than $75,000 per plaintiff or class member, claiming they would not have purchased the mini-blinds if they had known they were so dangerous.

05 L 191 (3rd Circuit)

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