Court Dismisses Hard Drive Technology Suit Filed Against Western Digital

On May 27, a Northern District of California judge dismissed a putative class action with leave to amend that concerned computer hard drives. In the suit, the consumer plaintiff alleges that Western Digital Corporation misled consumers about the true nature of four types of hard drives it made and sold. The summary order, written by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, found that the amended complaint failed to sufficiently allege New York business law, fraudulent concealment, and unjust enrichment claims.

According to the March-filed complaint, Western Digital did not tell purchasers that its hard drives utilize “Shingle Magnetic Recording (SMR) technology, which results in slower performance and inferior stability compared to higher-performance Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR) technology.” The plaintiff claims that previously, the hard drive manufacturer used CMR technology, but “surreptitiously switched to SMR technology in the last several years without disclosing this change to consumers,” allegedly for cost reasons.

The court held that as to the New York business law violations, the plaintiff failed to specify consumers’ reasonable expectation as to which type of technology they would generally expect in a mass storage device. Too, the complaint points to no misleading packaging or advertising, Judge Gonzalez Rogers noted.

As to the nationwide claims for fraudulent concealment and unjust enrichment, the court found that the plaintiff did not sufficiently allege the state laws in which the common law claims are grounded. The order stated that in another consumer product class action, the court reminded the plaintiff’s counsel, Bursor & Fisher P.A., of the Ninth Circuit’s exacting standard for such claims, which often results in their being pared down prior to class certification.

The court ordered the plaintiff to file his second amended class action complaint by June 22.

Western Digital is represented by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.