Owners of foul-smelling washing machines granted class certification by 7th Circuit

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has granted class certification to owners of odor-emitting Kenmore washers, allowing their lawsuit against Sears, Roebuck and Co. to go forward.   

In one ruling on two separate class actions against Sears, the 7th Circuit reversed the denial of certification of class regarding a mold claim and affirmed the grant of class certification regarding the control unit claim. The lead plaintiff in Larry Butler, et al., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. Sears, Roebuck And Co., Nos. 11-8029, 12-8030, is a resident of Indiana.

Both class action claims arise from alleged defects in the Kenmore-brand Sears washing machines. The “mold claim” complains of a defect that causes a mass of microbes to form in the machine’s drum that creates mold which emits bad odors. The “control unit claim” complains of a malfunction in a computer device that causes the machine to stop even though nothing is wrong.

The 7th Circuit accepted the appeals in order to clarify the concept of “predominance” in class action litigation.  

For the mold claim, Sears contended since different models had different defects, the common questions of fact about the mold problem and its consequences do not predominate over individual questions of fact.

Conversely, the 7th Circuit found that the basic question in the litigation was “Were the machines defective in permitting mold to accumulate and generate noxious odors?” And this question is common to the entire mold class even though the answer may vary with the differences in the design of the machine. The individual questions are the amount of damages owed to particular owners of the washing machines.

In considering the question of predominance, the court found the class action procedure would be efficient not only in cost but also in efficacy. The stakes in an individual case would be too small to justify the expense of suing which means that denial of class certification would preclude any relief.

For the control unit claim, the court ruled it is more efficient to resolve the question of whether the washing machines were defective in a single proceeding than for it to be litigated separately in hundreds of different trials.



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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.