February 25th, 2014
On February 24, 2014, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Petitions by Whirlpool and Sears concerning whether class certification was proper in litigation involving alleged defects in Whirlpool and Sears front-loader washing machines that cause mold and mildew to accumulate, as well as a defect in the Sears front-loader machines with the control unit that causes the machines to stop at certain times.
Last year, the Supreme Court had remanded the Whirlpool and Sears cases to the Sixth and Seventh Circuit Courts respectively, to consider their decisions on class certification in light of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2013). In considering Comcast and its previous decisions, both the Sixth and Seventh Circuit Courts reaffirmed that certification of the classes against Whirlpool and Sears was proper. The Sixth Circuit found that there were common issues, including that the front-loading washing machines had a common design defect that resulted in the formation of mold and mildew in the machines. The Seventh Circuit similarly affirmed certification of a mold class, as well as, an electronic control board class.
We expect that both the Whirlpool and Sears cases will now proceed toward trial in their respective courts.