Lutes et al v. Kawasaki Motors Corp U.S.A. et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 142 Motion to Compel Production of Unredacted Warranty Claim Documents from KMC. See attached ruling. Signed by Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons on 2/19/2014. (Katz, Samantha)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CARLY LUTES, KEVIN LUTES, AND :
S.L., PPA KEVIN AND CARLY
KAWASAKI MOTORS CORP., USA
AND KAWASAKI MOTORS
CIV. NO. 3:10CV1549 (WWE)
RULING ON PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF UNREDACTED
WARRANTY CLAIM DOCUMENTS FROM KAWASAKI MOTORS CORPORATION
Plaintiffs Carly and Kevin Lutes bring this products
liability action against defendants Kawasaki Motors Corporation,
USA (KMC), and Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation (KMM).
It arises out of personal injuries plaintiffs sustained from an
accident involving a Jet Ski manufactured by KMM and marketed
and distributed by KMC. Pending before the Court is plaintiffs‟
motion to compel the production of unredacted warranty claim
documents. [Doc. #142].
motion. [Doc. #152].
Defendant KMC opposes plaintiffs‟
The Court heard oral argument on this
motion on February 18, 2014.
For the reasons articulated below,
plaintiffs‟ motion to compel is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN
The claims in this action arise from the use of a “recessed
hook”1 on plaintiffs‟ Jet Ski. Specifically, plaintiffs Carly and
The parties dispute the proper
Plaintiffs refer to the subject
manual for the Jet Ski at issue
hook”, while the Kawasaki parts
term for the device in question.
device as a “cleat.” The owner‟s
refers to the device as a “recessed
system refers to it as a “cargo hook.”
Kevin Lutes were using their Jet Ski to tow an unmanned inner
tube, which was attached by rope to the Jet Ski‟s recessed hook
and tow hook.
Plaintiff Carly Lutes was holding the excess rope
when the recessed hook allegedly broke away from the Jet Ski,
causing the tow rope to constrict around her arm, pulling her
off the Jet Ski, and severing her left hand from her arm.
Plaintiffs allege, inter alia, that the subject jet ski was
defectively designed by using the recessed hook.
Over the course of extensive discovery, KMC produced
documents relating to warranty claims involving the recessed
hook for the Jet Ski model at issue.
KMC has produced twenty
two (22) such warranty claims, albeit with redactions to the
customers‟ names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
redacted this information pursuant to the right to privacy set
forth in Article I, Section I of the California Constitution.
Plaintiffs seek the customer information to counter KMC‟s
suggestion that it has never heard of a customer using the
recessed hooks for anything other than securing cargo.
Plaintiffs contend that they should not have to “take KMC‟s word
for it”, in light of the significant number of replacement parts
sold, and the dealer comments in the warranty claim documents.
Plaintiffs also claim that this information is “potentially
critical to the issues of notice, the pre-and post-sale duties
to warn, and recklessness.”
Simply, plaintiffs seek to
investigate how these customers used the recessed hooks, and how
the hooks broke.
For purposes of this ruling, the subject device will be referred to as
a “recessed hook.”
In this diversity action, the parties hotly contest the
applicability of Connecticut versus California law to the right
to privacy privilege claimed by KMC on behalf of its customers.2
However, the Court finds that it need not reach the choice of
law determination where plaintiffs‟ need for the requested
information and the customers‟ potential privacy interests may
be accommodated by KMC sending a letter, prepared by plaintiffs,
to each of the warranty claim customers.
In this letter,
plaintiffs may briefly explain the nature of the present suit,
and request that the customers contact plaintiffs‟ counsel to
discuss how the customers used the recessed hooks, and how the
The letter may also include a limited number of
questions relating to how the customers used the recessed hooks,
and how the hooks were broken.
The customers shall be permitted
to answer these questions in writing as an alternative to
speaking to counsel. Plaintiffs shall also include with the
letters a self-addressed stamped envelope to facilitate the
return of any answered questions.
The Court will permit plaintiffs to send letters to all
twenty two (22) of the warranty claim customers.
will bear the costs of mailing the letters to the customers.
KMC shall mail the letters to the customers via United States
“The California Constitution expressly provides that all people have
the „inalienable‟ right to privacy.” Planned Parenthood Golden Gate
v. Superior Court, 83 Cal. App. 4th 347, 357 (2000) (citation
omitted). California courts have “frequently recognized that
individuals have a substantial interest in the privacy of their home”,
including residential addresses and telephone numbers. Id. at 359
Mail within five (5) days of receiving plaintiffs‟ mailing
The parties may contact the Court for a telephone
conference if, after a reasonable amount of time from the date
of the mailing, plaintiffs have not received any responses from
the warranty claim customers.
Accordingly, plaintiffs‟ motion to compel [Doc. #142] is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
This is not a Recommended Ruling. This is a discovery
ruling or order which is reviewable pursuant to the “clearly
erroneous” statutory standard of review. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a); and D. Conn. L. Civ. R.
72.2. As such, it is an order of the Court unless reversed or
modified by the district judge upon motion timely made.
SO ORDERED at Bridgeport this 19th day of February 2014.
HOLLY B. FITZSIMMONS
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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