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Penrod v. K&N Eng'g

United States District Court for the District of Minnesota

May 2, 2019, Decided; May 2, 2019, Filed

File No. 18-cv-02907 (ECT/LIB)



Plaintiffs filed this case in federal district court seeking to represent a nationwide class—or, alternatively, state-specific classes—of persons who sustained damages caused by Defendant's allegedly defective oil filters. Plaintiffs assert only state-law claims and allege there is subject-matter jurisdiction over this case on the basis of the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"). Defendant K&N Engineering seeks dismissal of the case on several grounds, including that Plaintiffs' claims do not satisfy CAFA's $5 million amount-in-controversy threshold. Because Plaintiffs' complaint does not allege facts plausibly establishing [*2]  this jurisdictional requirement, the complaint will be dismissed. Plaintiffs will be permitted to file an amended complaint.

Plaintiffs—three individuals from Minnesota, Missouri, and Oregon—allege that K&N designs and sells defective engine-oil filters for use in motorcycles and powersport vehicles (like jet skis and ATVs). Compl. ¶¶ 1, 11, 18, 26 [ECF No. 1]; Williams Decl. ¶ 2 [ECF No. 19] (clarifying that K&N does not manufacture oil filters). Plaintiffs allege specifically that three models of K&N filters (the KN-138, KN-204, and KN-303) share "a structural and manufacturing defect whereby they can suddenly separate or fracture causing pressurized and hot engine oil to erupt and spill onto the person, engine, components, tires, and riding surfaces." Compl. ¶¶ 2-3. At the very least, Plaintiffs allege, this "separation defect" renders the oil filter unusable; at worst, the defect can result in "engine fires, engine failures, vehicle crashes, personal injuries, and other economic damages." Id. ¶ 3; see also id. ¶ 45 ("Typically, on motorcycles, oil filters are located directly in front of the rear tire. Because of the placement, an oil filter failure can result in an immediate loss [*3]  of traction to the rear tire and cause a serious accident.").

Plaintiffs do not identify when these oil filters entered the market, but allege that "Defendant has long known, since at least 2014, that the Oil Filters are defective." Id. ¶ 53. Plaintiffs describe in their complaint how K&N initiated a voluntary recall in August 2017. Id. ¶¶ 63, 68-69. The recall was limited to the KN-204 model and implicated seven months' worth of filters—those manufactured between March 1, 2016, and September 30, 2016. Id. ¶ 69. K&N offered as part of the recall to "replace the affected oil filters at no charge." Id. Plaintiffs also allege that around this same time, K&N modified the filter design, "revis[ing] the shape of the removal nut and canister end to improve the mating of the two components" in order to address "improper welding of the nut to the canister" at the location where oil would leak. Id. ¶¶ 67, 69.

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2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74361 *; 2019 WL 1958652

John Penrod, Gus Erpenbach, and Juan Welsh, individually and on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. K&N Engineering, Inc., Defendant.

Subsequent History: Dismissed by, Without prejudice, Motion denied by, As moot, Judgment entered by Penrod v. K&N Eng'g, Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8559 (D. Minn., Jan. 17, 2020)


filters, oil, amount in controversy, allegations, damages, subject-matter, amended complaint, class member, exceeds, removal, engine, subject matter jurisdiction, district court, threshold, factual allegations, estimate, grounds