May 4th, 2012
On May 3, 2012, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision affirming the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio's decision that certified an Ohio class involving current residents of Ohio who purchased certain Whirlpool front-loader washing machines (Whirlpool Duet, Duet HT, Duet Sport and Duet Sport HT front-load washing machines (collectively, "front-load washing machines") in Ohio. The complaint against the Whirlpool Corporation (“Whirlpool”) alleges design defects in the front-load washing machines that cause mold and mildew to accumulate in the washing machines. The District Court granted plaintiff's motion for class certification. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the Ohio plaintiff class. The Sixth Circuit agreed that the District Court properly concluded that whether design defects in the front-load washing machines proximately caused mold or mildew to grow and whether Whirlpool adequately warned consumers about the propensity for mold and mildew to grow within the machine are subject to common proof. The Sixth Circuit rejected Whirlpool's claim that design changes in later models defeated commonality. The Sixth Circuit also found that plaintiff satisfied the typicality requirement for class certification. Finally, the Sixth Circuit held that classwide adjudication of plaintiff’s claims is superior to other means of adjudicating the case.
For a copy of the Sixth Circuit’s Opinion, please click here.