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Sears must face washer class suit

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.

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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.

Bloomberg News

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