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Shop-Vac Cases Sent to Pennsylvania Federal

(CN) - Seven consumers who say Shop-Vac exaggerated the horsepower on its wet-dry vacuums must centralize their claims in Pennsylvania, a multidistrict litigation panel ruled.

"Plaintiffs in these actions allege that defendants misrepresented or misled consumers as to the 'peak horsepower' ratings of the wet/dry vacuums, that the vacuums produce materially less 'peak horsepower' than has been represented by defendants, and that the term 'peak horsepower' is itself misleading in light of the actual operation of the vacuums under normal usage conditions," the decision states.

Chief U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane, who is already presiding from Harrisburg, Pa., over two of the six lawsuits involved, will assume jurisdiction over the other cases, according to the six-member panel.

Three of the underlying cases were filed in the District of New Jersey, including one complaint from Clay Scott and Scott Mahoney against Lowe's Companies and Shop-Vac. Scott and Mahoney say the home-improvement chain sells a series of the vacuums that are exclusive to its stores.

The remaining lawsuit came from the Eastern District of New York, but the panel noted that there may be "potential tag-along actions" from a variety of districts.

"Centralization will avoid duplicative discovery, eliminate the risk of inconsistent pretrial rulings on class certification and other pretrial matters, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary," the order states. "Centralization also will facilitate efficient resolution of complex scientific and technical questions and will streamline discovery with respect to plaintiffs' independent laboratory testing."

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