Baseball-Bat Maker Accused of Spinning Defect

CHICAGO (CN) – Customers claim Louisville Slugger is trying to cover up a manufacturing defect in one of its pricey baseball bats by saying they were made that way on purpose to help batters with their swings.

In a class-action lawsuit filed Monday in Chicago federal court, lead plaintiff George Alea claims Louisville Slugger’s parent company Wilson Sporting Goods refused to honor its warranty and refund him for the bat he bought for his son to use for high school baseball.

Alea’s son noticed that the handle of the Louisville Slugger Prime BBCOR bat moved independently from the barrel when he swung it, making it less effective for hitting, the complaint states. Wilson’s customer service department allegedly told Alea that was normal.

But judging from other complaints littering the internet, the problem wasn’t normal, and Wilson knew all about it, according to the lawsuit, which cites various posts about broken BBCOR bats.

On top of that “the bats are expensive by any measure, costing approximately $400 each, and are purported to be of extremely high quality,” Alea says in his lawsuit.

“The release of the bat coincided with an onslaught of complaints,” the lawsuit states.

But instead of correcting it or allowing customers to return the bats, “defendants took the unorthodox approach of creating a post-hoc marketing regime focusing on (and indeed promoting) the defect, as if it were deliberate,” Alea claims. (Parentheses in original.)

The product description was allegedly changed to say that the bat’s “TRU3 Dynamic Socket Connection allows for slight movement between the barrel and handle to further maximize barrel trampoline effect and eliminate negative vibration.”

“Defendants appear to have hatched a scheme to deny warranty claims and act as if the defect was instead a noteworthy feature of the bats,” Alea says in his complaint.

The lawsuit accuses Wilson and Louisville Slugger of violating consumer-protection laws in several states, including Illinois and Florida, and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

The proposed class of Florida, California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and New York consumers who bought the BBCOR bat since April 2015 is represented by Michael Flannery of Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP in St. Louis, Mo., and Washington D.C., and by Baron & Herkowitz in Miami.

Wilson did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.