Court Grants Class Certification In Whirlpool Front-Loader Litigation

On July 12, 2010, the Honorable James S. Gwin issued a decision certifying claims on behalf of a class of washing machine owners in Ohio. Plaintiffs in the case, which is captioned In re: Whirlpool Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation, No. 08-65000 and pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, allege that certain Whirlpool washing machines contain a design defect that causes the machines to accumulate mold, which results in unpleasant odors and laundry that is not clean. The Court held that Plaintiffs’ negligent design, negligent failure to warn, and tortuous breach of warranty claims satisfied Rule 23 (a) and (b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and certified the following class: “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 (the “Class).” The Class excludes (1) Whirlpool, any entity in which Whirlpool has a controlling interest, and its legal representatives, officers directors, employees, assigns, and successors; (2) Washing Machines purchased through Whirlpool’s Employee Purchase Program; (3) the Judge to whom this case is assigned, any members of the Judge’s staff, and any member of the Judge’s immediate family; (4) persons or entities who distribute or resell the Washing Machines; (5) government entities; and (6) claims for personal injury, wrongful death, and/or emotional distress.

The parties are in the process of briefing the class certification issue with respect to a number of additional states.