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Pest control case heads to trial

The Repeller is a device marketed to homeowners eager to get rid of mice. But photos of mice apparently contented mice near the devices persuaded U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III to allow a class action lawsuit to proceed against Bell + Howell, maker of the Repeller.

The lawsuit was filed in 2015 by women in Palm Desert, California, and Woodville, Texas.

“It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words,” Pauley III wrote. “As the photographs show, mice can apparently relax comfortably under a Repeller and even appear to be so drawn in by its siren song that one would scale a wall just to snooze on it.”

The plaintiffs say they purchased Repellers based on ads that said the devices were “fast and effective” in repelling “mice, rats, roaches, spiders and ants.”

More than 2.4 million Repellers were sold. The devices plug into electrical outlets and emit ultrasonic signals. A disclaimer on the packaging notes that the ultrasonic waves lose intensity over distance and are absorbed by common items such as carpets.

The judge said a jury will decide if the devices were ineffectively and deceptively marketed.

“Our client stands by its product and the product’s effectiveness,” said an attorney for Bell + Howell. He said lab testing shows that ultrasonic technology can be effective in driving pests away.

The Associated Press reported that the judge noted that plaintiffs cite “a cavalcade of studies” that show that the devices are an ineffective means of pest control.

Companies and consumers alike can protect their interests with the help of a law firm experienced in business litigation.