Seventh Circuit Reinstates Decision Affirming Class Certification In Sears Front-Loader Litigation

On August 22, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated its November 13, 2012 decision, and affirmed certification of both mold and electronic control board classes in litigation concerning front-loader washing machines manufactured and sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. (“Sears”). The complaint against Sears alleges design defects in front-loader washing machines that cause mold and mildew to accumulate in the washing machines, as well as a defect with the control unit that causes the machines to stop at certain times. On November 13, 2012, the Seventh Circuit issued a decision reversing a United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruling that denied certification to a class of consumers who complained of a defect that causes mold in front-loading washing machines sold by Sears. In the same decision, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the District’s Court’s certification of a class of consumers who complained of a defect that stops the machine inopportunely.

Sears sought judicial review of the Seventh Circuit’s November 13, 2012 opinion before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Seventh Circuit to consider the decision in light of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2013). In considering Comcast and its previous decision, the Seventh Circuit found that predominance was satisfied and that, although individual issues existed with respect to each class member’s damages, the classes could still be certified because they had the same legal theory.