Lawyer drops plea to halt manufacture of mini blinds

Steve Korris Jun. 29, 2009, 6:56am

Lawyer Jeffrey Lowe of Clayton, Mo., has dropped a plea for a Madison County injunction that would have prevented 13 companies from manufacturing, distributing or selling window blinds he deems dangerous.

He continues pursuing a class action accusing all 13 of conspiracy, on behalf of Ronald Alsup of Edwardsville and Robert Crews of Granite City.

Alsup and Crews claim that although companies knew dangling cords on blinds strangled children, they continued making and selling blinds with dangling cords.

Alsup and Crews sued 28 domestic and foreign companies in 2005, on the eve of the effective date of the national Class Action Fairness Act.

Had they sued a few days later, they would have had to sue in federal court.

They sought damages not for deaths and injuries but for amounts people wouldn't have paid if the companies had known the danger.

They alleged counts of negligence, negligent omission, breach of implied warranties, comnspiracy, concert of action, and fraud under stated, federal and common law.

Lowe moved to certify Alsup and Crews as representatives for a class of "hundreds of millions" of conspiracy victims.

He sought an injunction banning further manufacture, distribution or sale of blinds with dangling cords.

Some defendants settled and 13 asked Circuit Judge Dave Hylla to dismiss all counts.

Lowe narrowed his approach, agreeing to dismiss counts of negligence and breach of implied warranties against all 13.

He dropped all fraud counts and the count of negligent omission against 11, persisting against Springs Window Fashion and Beautiful Window Enterprise.

He dropped his count seeking a ban on dangling cords.

All 13 moved to dismiss remaining counts, and on June 9 Hylla denied the motions.

That left Springs Window Fashion and Beautiful Window Enterprise facing a variety of claims and all 13 facing claims of civil conspiracy and concert of action.

Hylla wrote that Lowe's accounts of meetings among window makers in 1994 were sufficient to allege conspiracy.

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