DETROIT — Sears Holdings Corp. must face a group lawsuit by consumers in six states claiming the company’s Kenmore-brand washers have a defect that causes mold, an Appeals Court said Tuesday.
The US Court of Appeals in Chicago reversed an earlier ruling that barred consumers from pursuing their claims as a class, or group, action. The plaintiffs contend the front-loading machines, made by Whirlpool Corp. and sold by Sears under the Kenmore brand, don't clean themselves adequately, leading to mold.
US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman found that the consumers could not pursue claims in a class action because common issues didn’t predominate over individual questions of fact, a requirement of such suits. The Appeals Court reversed, saying the consumers’ claim of a defect leading to mold and bad odors was a common issue.
The court upheld Coleman’s decision allowing consumers to pursue a class action on claims that a defect in the machines’ control unit causes them to stop suddenly.
The lawsuit covers breach-of-warranty complaints by consumers in California, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Texas.
Chris Brathwaite, a spokesman for Sears, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on the ruling.