L.L. Bean is asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Freeport retailer’s new return policy.

The company changed its unlimited return policy in February, claiming that some customers were abusing the virtually unrestricted return or exchange policy by taking back worn-out items years after sale – essentially treating it as a lifetime replacement guarantee, Bean said. Under the new policy, Bean will accept returns on items bought in the prior year or returned because of a manufacturing defect.

A Chicago customer filed a lawsuit in federal court in Chicago a few days later, claiming the company’s change in policy was “deceptive and unfair.”

The man, Victor Bondi, said he was a longtime and loyal L.L. Bean customer, but he argued that the return policy was a core part of the company’s marketing and that the change should have been preceded with more warning to customers.

In a memorandum accompanying Bean’s motion to dismiss, the company said Bondi misunderstood the change in policy and that the company had made it plain that the old return policy would still apply for products purchased before Feb. 9, when the new policy was announced.

The filing said Bondi has therefore suffered no injury because he hasn’t tried to return any Bean purchases or been refused a refund.

“There is no controversy for this court to resolve,” the pleading said.

The company also is asking the court to deny Bondi class-action status, in which he claims to act for thousands of other customers in challenging the new policy and filing the suit. Bean’s lawyers argue that Bondi can’t claim to represent other customers outside of Illinois because his suit is based, in large part, on that state’s consumer laws.

The company also said that trying the case on the laws of all the states “will render the putative class unmanageable.”

The docket in the federal court case doesn’t indicate when Bondi’s lawyers will respond or when the judge might rule on the motions.

Anthony Parkhill, one of the lawyers with the Chicago firm of Barnow & Associates, which is representing Bondi, said the firm doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Carolyn Beem, spokeswoman for L.L. Bean, reiterated that the lawsuit misrepresents the terms of the company’s new return policy.

“We believe the suit is without merit, and in response we have filed a motion to strike and dismiss,” she said. “L.L. Bean products purchased prior to Feb. 9, 2018, when the return policy changed, are not subject to the new one-year restriction on returns. Proof of purchase will continue to be required. This is the message we have consistently shared with customers since the new policy was announced.”

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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