Seventh Circuit Reverses Denial Of Class Certification Regarding Mold Claim In Sears Front-Loader Litigation

On November 13, 2012, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals 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, Roebuck and Co. (“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. The complaint against Sears alleges design defects in the front-load 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 appeal, the Seventh Circuit focused on the predominance concept and explained how plaintiffs satisfied this requirement. The Court held that the question of whether the machines were defective in permitting mold to accumulate and generate odors is common to the entire mold class. The Seventh Circuit agreed with the Sixth Circuit’s decision in In re Whirlpool Corp. Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation, 678 F.3d 409 (6th Cir. 2012), which certified a similar mold claim.