(CN) – A bulletproof-vest manufacturer can sue the company that allegedly made defective Zylon fibers that were used in the vests, a federal judge ruled.
Point Blank Solutions and Point Blank Body Armor says the ballistic fabric it bought to make bulletproof vests from 1999 to 2005 was made up of defective Zylon fibers, produced and sold by Toyobo, a Japan-based textile manufacturer.
Toyobo represented to Point Blank that its Zylon was a “superior material for body armor,” and “twice the strength of Kevlar,” according to the ruling.
Although Toyobo knew since 2001 that Zylon degraded almost 10 percent in 100 days and was, in fact, “largely inferior to [Kevlar] fiber,” it failed to disclose this information, Point Blank claimed.
After a police officer was shot while wearing a Zylon bulletproof vest in 2003, the National Institute of Justice began to investigate the product and issued a 2005 directive saying it could no longer approve any body armor containing Zylon because the fiber was defective.
Point Blank bought Zylon from third-party weavers, preselected by Toyobo, which also controlled how much Zylon fabric Point Blank would receive and the markets in which Point Blank could sell its Zylon-containing products.
The federal directive against Zylon caused Point Blank to lose millions of dollars worth of inventory, it sued Toyobo and its American subsidiary in 2009 to recover its losses.
Toyobo moved for summary judgment on all five counts of the lawsuit, claiming Point Blank could not prove Toyobo caused its damages.
U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz agreed on May 13 to dismiss three of Point Blank’s claims, alleging breach of warranties and deceptive trade practices, with prejudice.
Seitz found that the claims were improper since there was no privity, or contractual relationship, between Point Blank and Toyobo. Furthermore the claims are barred by a five-year statute of limitations.
Point Blank can still sue, however, for deceptive advertising and fraudulent inducement, according to the 14-page ruling.
“Plaintiffs incurred damaged, or suffered injury, when they purchased Zylon that they would not have otherwise purchased if defendants had not made false, misleading or deceptive statements to plaintiffs,” Seitz wrote.
This claim is not time barred because of the delayed discovery doctrine, according to the ruling.
“Thus, plaintiffs’ claim … is not time barred because the claim did not accrue until plaintiffs learned that there were problems with Zylon, which plaintiffs allege occurred in 2005,” Seitz wrote.