Judge dismisses fraud suit regarding thread count of bedding linen purchased at Ross Stores

By Chandra Lye | Nov 22, 2018

OAKLAND – A federal judge in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California recently ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging fraud involving the thread count on bedding linen purchased from Ross Stores.

The putative class action suit was filed by Dominique Morrison, who claims Ross Stores and AQ Textiles misrepresented the number of thread count in order to dupe customers. She filed the suit regarding a set of satin sheets she bought that claimed to have a thread count of 800. She indicated that if she had known they were less than the 800-threads she would not have bought them.

Both defendants filed motions to dismiss on different grounds. AQ claimed personal jurisdiction grounds while Ross Stores and AQ both argued the plaintiff failed to state a claim and failed to allege standing with regards to the product misrepresentations. 

In its decision filed Nov. 14, the district court granted both motions, with the Ross Stores motion being granted with leave to amend. 

“Plaintiff has leave to amend to allege sufficiently the factual basis for her claims against Ross, and for her satisfaction (or excuse from satisfaction) of the notice requirements applicable to them,” U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers wrote in the order. 

Ross Stores argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed for failure to state a claim on several grounds, including failure to allege facts that demonstrate the plaintiff provided adequate pre-filing notices, failure to allege the elements of the claims sufficiently and failure to allege the fraud-based claims with enough detail. The company also claimed that the allegations made in the case were general and do not indicate the basis for their liability or the belief they co-operated with the alleged misrepresentation. 

“The court agrees that the FAC (first amended complaint) does not fairly apprise Ross of the conduct alleged to give rise to its liability for either the fraud-based claims or the warranty-based claims," the court said. "Because plaintiff has directed the allegations to defendants generally, the theory and facts upon which she bases her all claims against Ross are ambiguous. Plaintiff never specifically alleges that Ross itself made any representations, knew any representations were false, supplied any false information, or had any role in the labeling or advertising of the sheets.” 

“Plaintiff alleges that the standard practice in the bedding and linen industry has been to count the number of threads in both the warp (vertical direction) and filling (horizontal direction) to measure thread count, counting each yarn as one thread, regardless of whether the yarn was a single-ply or multi-ply yarn,” the court said. 

Morrison claimed the “defendant improperly counted the plies making up the threads in their linens rather than the threads themselves,” according to the court order. “Plaintiff alleges defendants, acting in concert, engaged in this conduct to induce consumers like plaintiff to purchase inferior products with falsely stated thread counts.”

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