May 3, 2012
Jonathan D. Selbin of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and the court-appointed lead attorney for the class, announced that a unanimous panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld the order of U.S. District Court Judge James S. Gwin of the Northern District of Ohio granting class certification to Ohio consumers who allege that Whirlpool Corporation sold them front-load washing machines that are prone to grow mold and produce foul odors in ordinary use.
Selbin commented, "The Court of Appeals today reaffirmed that when a company knowingly sells a defective product to thousands of consumers, those consumers are entitled to band together as a class to hold the company accountable." Selbin added, "We are gratified that our clients and the thousands of consumers like them will have their day in court."
In reaching its decision, the appellate court stated, "[W]e have no difficulty affirming the district court's finding that common questions predominate over individual ones and that the class action mechanism is the superior method to resolve these claims fairly and efficiently. This is especially true since class members are not likely to file individual actions because the cost of litigation would dwarf any potential recovery." (Opinion, page 15.)
Background on the Front-Load Washer Mold Litigation
Plaintiffs charge that Whirlpool's Duet®, Duet HT®, DuetSport®, and DuetSportHT® front-load washing machines ("the Duets") contain a design defect that results in the growth of mold or mildew in the machines, ruined laundry, and foul odors. Plaintiffs further allege that although they and other consumers have spent time and money trying to remedy these problems, none of those supposed remedies – many recommended by Whirlpool itself -- have done so.
On July 12, 2010, Judge Gwin certified a class comprised of current Ohio residents who purchased one of the specified Duets in Ohio primarily for personal, family, or household purposes and not for resale, and who bring legal claims for tortious breach of warranty, negligent design, and negligent failure to warn. Whirlpool Corporation then appealed that decision, and argument was held in January 2012. The Sixth Circuit's opinion affirming the district court was released today, and can be found on Lieff Cabraser's front load washer defect allegations case page.
In addition to the claims for Ohio consumers, consumers from many other states have also brought claims that are now pending before Judge Gwin, and for which class certification will be sought. Similar cases are also pending against other defendants for the same defect, including two in which Lieff Cabraser is counsel, Butler v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., Nos. 1:06-CV-7023, 1:07-CV-0412 & 1:08-CV-1832 (N.D. Ill.), and In Re: LG Front Loading Washing Machine Class Action Litigation, No. 08-51 (D.N.J.).
Consumers who have experienced mold or odor problems with their Whirlpool, Sears/Kenmore or LG front load washers can report problems at Lieff Cabraser's front loading washer defect allegations case page.
Duet®, Duet HT®, DuetSport®, and DuetSportHT® are registered trademarks of Whirlpool Corporation and used for product identification and informational purposes only.
Jonathan D. Selbin
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP