No Manifestation, No Standing

No Manifestation, No Standing

By: Loly G. Tor and Patrick J. Perrone

Summary: Eighth Circuit affirms that a plaintiff does not have standing to sue for a defective product unless the defect has actually manifested.

Key Takeaways: In In re Polaris Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, 9 F.4th 793 (8th Cir. 2021), the purchasers of off-road vehicles filed a putative class action against the manufacturer and designer of the vehicles based on allegations that the vehicles’ engines overheat and cause fires.  Half of the named plaintiffs alleged their vehicles caught fire, while the other half alleged only a risk of fire.  The Eighth Circuit upheld the District of Minnesota’s decision that a plaintiff whose vehicle had not experienced a fire – i.e., the alleged defect had not manifested in their vehicles – lacked Article III standing to sue because they had no injury in fact.  The “no-fire” plaintiffs contended that they suffered economic damages because they would not have purchased the vehicles or they would have paid less if they had known about the alleged defect.  This was not enough: “In the context of defective products, . . . it is not enough for a plaintiff to allege that a product line contains a defect or that a product is at risk for manifesting this defect; rather, the plaintiffs must allege that their product actually exhibited the alleged defect.”  Without manifestation, there was no injury and, accordingly, no standing.

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