Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP-Attorneys At Law
Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller and Shah, LLP

Whirlpool Corporation

Class Action Lawsuit Against Whirlpool Corporation

Summary of the Pending Case: On June 20, 2008, SFMS, along with co-counsel, filed a class action complaint (“Complaint”) against the Whirlpool Corporation (“Whirlpool” or “Defendant”) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Civil Action No. 1:08-CV-03555. The Complaint alleges that certain front-loader washing machines, including the Duet, Duet HT and Duet Sport, which are manufactured and sold by Whirlpool, contain an inherent design defect that causes the machines to allegedly produce and harbor mold and mildew within the machine. Plaintiffs assert claims for violation of the Magnuson-Moss Act, Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Maryland Consumer Protection Act, North Carolina Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and New York Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as claims for breach of express and implied warranty and unjust enrichment. Through this action, Plaintiffs seek, among other things, damages and equitable relief, including the replacement and/or recall of the allegedly defective washing machines. The action is pending before the Honorable Virginia Kendall.

Status of Pending Case: On August 23, 2008, Whirlpool filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint. Whirlpool also filed a Motion to Strike the Class Claims. Plaintiffs filed their Oppositions to Defendant’s motions on September 30, 2008. Recently, Defendant filed a motion before the Multi-District Litigation Panel (“MDL”) seeking to consolidate the Whirlpool litigation with litigation pending against Sears, Roebuck & Co. and to transfer both cases to the Northern District of Illinois. Whirlpool’s motion was heard on November 20, 2008, and, by order dated December 2, 2008, the MDL Panel agreed with Plaintiffs’ position and refused to consolidate the Sears and Whirlpool litigations. The Sears litigation will remain in Illinois, while the Whirlpool litigation will be transferred to the Northern District of Ohio and has been consolidated and coordinated with another action currently pending in that district. With respect to Whirlpool’s Motion to Dismiss, the Court issued a ruling in November 2009 denying Whirlpool’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ fraud by omission claims and unjust enrichment claims. The Court dismissed the misrepresentation claims, as well as many of the implied warranty claims (with the exception of Illinois), but denied the Motion to Dismiss most of the express warranty claims. Specifically, the Court dismissed Florida and Maryland express warranty claims, and also dismissed the portion of the express warranty claim based on a materials-or-workmanship warranty for failure to notify Whirlpool within one year of purchase with respect to the Illinois, Florida and Texas law claims. To the extent that the warranty claims are based on a written material or workmanship warranty or the written stainless steel drum warranty, the Court allowed the claims to go forward.

Depositions of the class representative Plaintiffs are complete and the parties have exchanged expert reports. Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Class Certification and a hearing was held on May 27, 2010. On July 12, 2010, the Court issued a decision certifying claims on behalf of washing machine owners in Ohio. The Class includes "all persons who are current residents of Ohio and purchased a Washing Machine (defined as Whirlpool Duet, Duet HT, and Duet Sport Front-Loading Automatic Washers) for primarily personal, family or household purposes, and not for resale, in Ohio." Whirlpool has appealed the Court's decision on class certification. The appeal has been fully briefed and a hearing occurred on January 12, 2012 before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 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.

On June 18, 2012, the Sixth Circuit denied Whirlpool's petition requesting review of the decision upholding class certification

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This page was last updated: 2013-08-07 10:44:48

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