Johannessohn et al. v. Polaris Industries Inc.


The court declined to certify the class in this product liability litigation, ruling that the plaintiffs had no standing and failed to fulfill predominance requirements.

Retained by Kirkland & Ellis

A U.S. district court judge denied the plaintiffs’ motion to certify the class in this product liability matter. Purchasers of certain Polaris all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) alleged in their suit that the vehicles were defective because they emitted excessive heat.

To respond to the plaintiffs’ class certification model and proposed classwide damages model, counsel for Polaris retained Cornerstone Research to support three testifying experts, including Natalie Mizik of the University of Washington and Lorin Hitt of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

A U.S. district judge ruled that the plaintiffs’ damages approach was “not appropriate” for showing causation, injury, and damages.

  • Professor Mizik demonstrated that the plaintiffs’ conjoint survey failed to replicate the consumer purchase decision-making process for at-issue ATVs and contained a number of methodological errors, that, when corrected, reversed plaintiffs’ findings.
  • Professor Hitt analyzed market data for ATVs and found no evidence of an average loss in value in the at-issue ATVs. He also demonstrated a lack of uniform price impact associated with the announcement of the alleged heat issues on the ATVs owned by putative class members.
  • A third expert also found that the plaintiffs’ conjoint survey suffered from design flaws. In addition, he opined that the plaintiffs’ market simulation model relied on several flawed assumptions that rendered any estimates of economic damages unreliable.

U.S. District Judge Nancy E. Brasel ruled that the plaintiffs’ damages approach was “not appropriate” for showing causation, injury, and damages. She concluded, “Plaintiffs cannot satisfy the Rule 23(b)(3) predominance requirements with respect to their proposed nationwide class, and class certification will be denied.”

Wendy Bloom, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis who represented Polaris, noted to in April 2020 that “we retained preeminent experts who are intimately familiar with the conjoint survey and economic damages methodologies used by the plaintiffs’ experts. As a result, we were able to efficiently and effectively develop the mature factual and expert record necessary to respond to plaintiffs’ class certification motion and class-wide damages model on a very tight time frame.”

For more information on this case, contact Samid HussainVildan Altuglu, Matteo Li Bergolis, or Anna Shakotko.

Case Experts

Lorin M. Hitt

Zhang Jindong Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions,
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania;
Senior Advisor, Cornerstone Research

Natalie Mizik

Professor of Marketing,
J. Gary Shansby Endowed Chair in Marketing Strategy,
Foster School of Business,
University of Washington