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Sandra Graveline and Mark v. Select Comfort Retail Corporation

May 21, 2012

SANDRA GRAVELINE AND MARK GRAVELINE, HUSBAND AND WIFE,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SELECT COMFORT RETAIL CORPORATION, A MINNESOTA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING SELECT COMFORT'S DISMISSAL MOTION

Defendant Select Comfort Retail Corporation ("Select Comfort") moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) for dismissal of the following claims in the First Amended Complaint ("FAC"): Plaintiff Sandra Graveline's negligence and strict products liability claims and Plaintiff Mark Graveline's loss of consortium claim. The Gravelines oppose the motion.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

Decision on Select Comfort's Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal motion requires determination of "whether the complaint's factual allegations, together with all reasonable inferences, state a plausible claim for relief." Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

When determining the sufficiency of a claim, "[w]e accept factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the non-moving party[; however, this tenet does not apply to] . . . legal conclusions . . . cast in the form of factual allegations." Fayer v. Vaughn, 649 F.3d 1061, 1064 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "Therefore, conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss." Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (stating "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do'").

II. THE GRAVELINES' ALLEGATIONS

This case concerns personal injuries Sandra Graveline allegedly suffered from exposure to mold growing in the Gravelines' Sleep Number® mattress, which was designed and manufactured by Select Comfort. (Pls.' First Am. Compl. ("FAC") ¶¶ 3 & 5.) The Gravelines allege that "[i]n 2007 . . . , Sandra Graveline's health suddenly began to deteriorate, leaving her with less and less energy and never enough breath." Id. ¶ 18. "When [Sandra Graveline] sought medical help in 2007, the doctors were unable to . . . determine where in her body the problem . . . was located. . . . Only later would they determine she was suffering from a pulmonary disorder caused by her chronic exposure to mold." Id. ¶ 19.

"[T]he doctors . . . first diagnosed and treated her for a heart condition." Id. ¶ 21. In 2009, "a cardiologist was finally able to rule out a cardiology problem and determined [her] problems were instead pulmonary related." Id. ¶ 23. "[Diagnostic] tests started with the assumption that [she] was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and then, more specifically, pulmonary arterial hypertension. Yet, despite all of these tests, her pulmonary doctor remained unable to determine what was causing [her] health problems[.]" Id. ¶ 25.

"[O]n or about April 15, 2010[,] . . . Mark Graveline removed the cover from the Gravelines' Sleep Number® bed and discovered . . . mold . . . growing under the foam pad which sits on top of the impermeable air chambers." Id. ¶ 33. "[T]he largest [mass] of mold colonies was in an area under the portion of the bed where Sandra Graveline slept." Id. "Mark Graveline arranged to have a mold expert conduct laboratory tests . . . [on] samples from the [mattress]." Id. ¶

38. "These tests confirmed the presence of extremely high concentrations of Aureobasidium [mold] growing on the foam pad taken from the Graveline[s'] Sleep Number® bed[.]" Id. "The Aureobasidium had slowly begun to grow . . . within a year after [the Gravelines] purchased th[e] bed in 1999, and it [grew] there for more than 10 years[.]" Id. ¶ 15.

"On or about May 4, 2010, on the recommendation of both [Sandra] Graveline's doctor and the mold expert, the Gravelines purchased and installed a . . . HEPA air filter[.]" Id. ¶ 40. "After installing the HEPA Filter, and after . . . remov[ing] the moldy Sleep Number® bed, [Sandra] Graveline's breathing problems began to improve." Id.

The Gravelines allege "the mold problem in the Sleep Number® bed results from a design which can entrap moisture without adequate air circulation." Id. ¶ 55. The Gravelines also allege that Select Comfort was "well aware of the mold-inducing defect inherent in the design of their Sleep Number® bed[,]" since it received customer complaints, responded publicly to news articles about mold in Sleep Number® beds, and modified the design of the Sleep Number® bed to address the mold problem. Id. ¶¶ 42-43, 47-48, 50 & 53. The Gravelines further allege that "[g]iven [Select Comfort's] knowledge of the mold problem and the risk it posed, . . . [Select Comfort] had a duty to recall the Sleep Number® beds or otherwise notify past purchasers, including the Gravelines, of the potential risk and danger of mold." Id. ¶ 58. The Gravelines also allege "[Select Comfort] had a duty to warn the Gravelines . . . of the inherent defect in their Sleep Number® bed when the Gravelines purchased [it]." Id. ¶ 78.

Sandra Graveline alleges in her negligence claim that "[Select Comfort] breached [its] duty . . . when [it] sold the Gravelines a negligently designed Sleep Number® bed, without any warnings or instructions to open and inspect [the mattress] regularly." Id. ¶¶ 65-66. Sandra Graveline alleges in her strict products liability claim that "the Sleep Number® bed was inherently defective because, in the course of regular and normal use, the design of the Sleep Number® bed cause[s] it to collect and entrap moisture on the air chamber surface and the immediately adjacent foam"; and "[Select Comfort was] already well aware of the design defect in th[e] Sleep Number® bed" when it sold one to the Gravelines. Id. ¶¶ 74-78. Mark Graveline ...


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