Supreme Court sends back consumer lawsuit on Whirlpool washers

WASHINGTON Mon Apr 1, 2013 10:38am EDT

People walk in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

People walk in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, March 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday wiped out an appeals court ruling in favor of consumers who bought front-loading washing machines made by Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N).

The court said the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision endorsing a group lawsuit, known as class action certification, had to be reconsidered in light of the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling last week in another consumer case involving Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O).

The class action lawsuit against Whirlpool said that the high-efficiency washers were defective because they emitted unpleasant odors.

In the Comcast case, the court ruled in favor of the cable company over how much it charged a group of cable TV subscribers. The court said 2 million subscribers in the Philadelphia area could not sue Comcast as a group.

Whirlpool's lawyers, in a petition seeking high court review, said that the case would also affect similar claims against the company and other manufacturers, including General Electric Co (GE.N) and Sears (SHLD.O).

The justices also ordered on Monday that another case pending before the court, involving employee wage claims against Charter One Bank, should be reconsidered in light of the Comcast ruling.

The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the claims could go ahead.

The bank said there was insufficient evidence to show that there was a unofficial policy to deny workers overtime. The official policy is to pay overtime to anyone who worked more than 40 hours in a week.

The Whirlpool case is Whirlpool Group v. Glazer, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-322. The Charter One case is RBS Citizens v. Ross, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-165.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Grant McCool)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
Mainspring44 wrote:
What will the five Justices, so worried that companies have too few means of defense, decide next about past precedents? Perhaps their seance seeking “original meaning” will discover that individuals not only cannot sue as a class. Perhaps they will discover that each type of product defect and/or service failing requires a separate lawsuit, by each individual complainant. That should just about totally clog the civil legal system, inducing pesky litigants to cease and desist from seeking redress entirely.

Apr 01, 2013 11:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.