Judge awards Columbia Sportswear $3.3 million in lawsuit

AP News
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Posted: Mar 12, 2015 1:31 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge awarded Columbia Sportswear $3.3 million in its lawsuit against a company that allegedly supplied faulty components for Columbia's electrically heated jackets.

Magistrate Judge Paul Papak issued the default judgment this week against Fibretronic Limited.

The Hong Kong-based company filed no court documents and did nothing to challenge Columbia over the lawsuit filed in September 2013. Columbia had sought $9.4 million in damages.

The lawsuit said Fibretronics' heating components — placed in the wrist cuffs — included wires that were improperly aligned and created an electrical short.

"The short created a hot spot that melted fabric in the jacket," according to the complaint filed by Columbia.

There were no reports of injuries from overheated cuffs, but Columbia and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued product recalls related to the jackets.

In January 2013, the company announced it did not plan to offer new electrically heated products for the 2013-14 winter season. A company spokesperson told The Oregonian newspaper (http://is.gd/iScioy ) this week that Columbia has suspended its electronics program.

The spokesperson declined to comment about the prospects of collecting the court award.

Columbia introduced its Omni-Heat Electric technology in apparel in 2011. The battery-powered, push-button heat in apparel was introduced after similar technology was offered in Columbia boots and gloves.

A court document Columbia filed in the case said the company ended up with about 6,400 electrically heated jackets in its inventory, nearly all of them stored at its Port of Portland warehouse. The company secured an order allowing it to destroy all but 70 jackets — 10 each of seven defective models — for future use if needed in court proceedings.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com