Ohio consumers who allege Whirlpool front-loading washing machines are prone to mold growth and produce foul odors have won their right to proceed as a class in a class action lawsuit against Whirlpool Corporation.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a 2010 order by U.S. District Court Judge James S. Gwin granting certification to the consumers, saying:
“[W]e have no difficulty affirming the district court’s decision 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.”
The Plaintiffs allege in the class action lawsuit that Whirlpool’s Duet, Duet HT, DuetSport and DuetSportHT front-load washing machines contain a design defect that results in the growth of mold or mildew in the machines, foul odors and ruined laundry. 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 of which were recommended by Whirlpool — have done so.
In July 2010, Judge Gwin certified a class of current Ohio residents who purchased a Whirlpool Duet front-load washing machine in Ohio for personal, family or household use and not for resale. Consumers outside of Ohio have also brought claims against Whirlpool that are now pending before Judge Gwin, and for which class certification will be sought.
“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,” said the court-appointed lead attorney for the Ohio class. “We are gratified that our clients and the thousands of consumers like them will have their day in court.”
Similar class action lawsuits are currently pending against other front-load washing machine manufacturers for the same defect, including Sears and LG.
The Whirlpool Duet Front-Loading Washing Machine Class Action Lawsuit case is In re: Whirlpool Corporation Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 10-4188.
UPDATE: On Oct. 30, 2014, a jury decided in favor of Whirlpool, finding that the company did not negligently design the front-loading washing machines and did not breach its warranty to consumers. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say they plan to appeal the verdict.
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