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Bronson v Samsung Electronics America, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 26, 2019

ALEXIS BRONSON and CRYSTAL HARDIN, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC. and SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PARTIAL MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          WILLIAM ALSUP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Alexis Bronson moves for partial summary judgment on his claims that Samsung had not made spare parts available to authorized service and repair facilities. To the extent below stated, plaintiff Bronson's motion is Granted.

         STATEMENT

         A prior order provided the factual and procedural history of this action (Dkt. No. 154). In brief, plaintiff Alexis Bronson purchased a Samsung 51-inch plasma Smart 3D HDTV television in August 2013. The television turned out to be defective in that it displayed colored-lines on the screen (Dkt. No. 98 ¶¶ 15, 52, 56-57). This putative class action lawsuit against defendants Samsung Electronics America Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. followed in April 2018 (Dkt. No. 1). Plaintiff amended the complaint in June 2018 (Dkt. No. 35).

         In October 2018, plaintiff Bronson went to an authorized service and repair facility and asked whether a replacement part for the television screen was “available.” The employee at the facility told him it was not. After the completion of Rule 12 motion practice, in January 2019, an order granted plaintiff Bronson leave to amend a second amended complaint which included the new fact from October 2018. The newly amended complaint alleged two claims: first, a violation of California Civil Code Section 1793.03(b), which provided:

Every manufacturer making an express warranty with respect to an electronic or appliance product . . . shall make available to service and repair facilities . . . functional parts to effect the repair of a product for at least seven years after the date a product model or type was manufactured, regardless of whether the seven-year period exceeds the warranty period for the product.

Second, a derivative violation of “unlawfulness” under Section 17200 of California's Business and Professions Code for the alleged violation of Section 1793.03(b). A new plaintiff, Crystal Hardin, also intervened.

         In April 2019, Samsung moved for summary judgment against plaintiff Bronson (not plaintiff Hardin) (Dkt. No. 122). A hearing was held in May 2019. The motion was subsequently denied (Dkt. No. 154).

         Plaintiff Bronson now moves for partial summary judgment against Samsung (Dkt. No. 130). This motion for partial summary judgment raises two issues. First, whether Samsung Electronics America Inc. is a manufacturer under the Act. Second, whether Samsung made the spare parts for plaintiff Bronson's television available to the authorized service and repair facility. This order follows full briefing (Dkt. Nos. 141, 150) and oral argument.

         ANALYSIS

         Under FRCP 56(c), partial summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery, and affidavits show that there is “no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.

         Under Section 1793.03(b), Samsung must make functional parts available to service and repair facilities for seven years after the product was manufactured. In full, Section 1793.03(b) provides:

Every manufacturer making an express warranty with respect to an electronic or appliance product described in subdivision (h), (i), (j), or (k) of Section 9801 of the Business and Professions Code, with a wholesale price to the retailer of one hundred dollars ($100) or more, shall make available to service and repair facilities sufficient service literature and functional parts to effect the repair of a product for at least seven years after the date a product model or type was manufactured, regardless of whether the seven-year period exceeds the warranty period for the product.

         (emphasis added). In other words, Section 1793.03(b) has four requirements: the provision (i) obligates manufacturers who make an express warranty (ii) on certain electronic products (iii) to effect the repair of those products by making service literature and functional parts available to service and repair facilities (iv) for seven years after manufacture.

         Here, plaintiff Bronson's plasma television is an electronic product with a wholesale price of over $100. In addition, the television had been manufactured in 2013. Accordingly, under Section 1793.03(b), service literature and function parts were required to be made available for the television until the year 2020. The parties disagree whether one of the defendants, Samsung Electronics America Inc., is a manufacturer. The parties also disagree whether Samsung had sufficiently made the part in question available. This order addresses each disagreement in turn.

         1. “Manufacturer Making an ...


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