Gateway named in Fujitsu HDD class action suit

Scope widened

Gateway has been named a defendant in the class action launched by US legal firm Shepherd Finklemann Miller & Shah (SFMS) over allegedly dodgy hard drives produced by Fujitsu and sold by HP and others.

The action centres on Fujitsu's MPG3xx family of drives. Last October, SFMS lodged its complaint with the US Supreme Court, naming Fujitsu (obviously), but also HP (as the seller of the Pavilion 7845 PC, which the complain states contained MPG3xx drives) and 100 other unnamed defendants, presumably US PC makers.

The complaint alleges that the defendants knew of defects on the MPG3xx drives but continued to sell them - and PCs containing them - to the public. It also claims they failed to remedy the situation by only replacing faulty drives still under guarantee and then offering only similar drives - which might also be subject to failure.

The action seeks actual and punitive damages, restitution, equitable relief - including the replacement and/or recall of the defective drives, civil penalties, costs and expenses of litigation and all further relief available.

SFMS recently amended its complaint to name Gateway as a defendant, according to UK system builder trade organisation the PC Association, which has been monitoring the case on behalf of its members. Two plaintiffs are also named, one of whom had bought a Gateway computer, and the other who had bought a drive on its own. The latter may effectively extend the scope of the action to retailers and resellers who offered the drive.

The story - quickly dubbed the Great Fujitsu HDD Fiasco - starts back in September 2002, when Japanese newswires, along with Bloomberg, reported that Fujitsu was recalling 300,000 hard drives in Japan. The drives, made between September 2000 and September 2001, contain a faulty controller chip, Fujitsu told Bloomberg at the time.

It quickly emerged that the drives were to be found in PCs in Europe and the US, as well as Japan, though Fujitsu later said that there was no recall programme in place.

Interestingly, Fujitsu is currently suing Cirrus Logic over said faulty drive chips, an action prompted by a suit launched in October 2001 by Cirrus against Fujitsu alleging breach of contract. Fujitsu's countersuit, alleging breach of contract and breach of warranty, was launched in December 2001 and claims up to 4.9 million hard drives are affected.

Despite that claim, Fujitsu continues to deny there is a problem with the MPG3xx family. For full details, see this story. ®

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