Class Certification Granted in Frigidare Washing Machines Case
Law360, Los Angeles (October 11, 2013, 8:11 PM ET) — A Georgia federal judge on Friday granted class certification to consumers in California and Texas who bought allegedly faulty Frigidaire washing machines that collect standing water, holding that class treatment is superior to other available methods for a fair and efficient resolution. The decision comes after named plaintiffs Robert Brown and Michael Vogler moved for class certification in 2011, arguing their suit met the criteria necessary to warrant the status. Brown and Vogler say they purchased front-loading Frigidaire washing machines from Electrolux Home Products Inc. that had a design flaw that resulted in water accumulating in the convoluted surface of a gasket after the wash cycle, causing mold and mildew to fester in the machine.
U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood on Friday granted the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, citing common issues among class members, including whether the machines possessed a common defect in their bellows design; whether the defect would cause biofilm, mold or mildew to grow; and whether Frigidaire knew about it and adequately warned consumers.
“Importantly, these issues are central to the validity of each class member’s legal claims,” Judge Wood wrote in the decision. “Thus, they will generate common answers that are likely to advance the litigation and drive the resolution of the lawsuit.”
The two classes include all persons and entities who purchased, other than for resale, any Frigidaire front load washing machine in California or Texas after March 5, 2004, according to court records.
The first class, led by Brown, brings claims under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and California’s unfair competition law. The second class is led by Vogler and alleges violations of Magnuson-Moss and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, according to court documents.
According to the suit, filed in March 2008, the mold and mildew that grew in the faulty machines caused damage and foul odors in clothing. The plaintiffs contend that although Frigidaire knew about the defects, it failed to inform customers, issue a recall of the machines, or pay to repair or replace the machines under the manufacturer’s warranty.
Not only did Frigidaire advertise its products as making clothes “feel fresher and last longer,” the company advised consumers to leave the door ajar when the machine was not in use and wipe down the inside after each use, the suit asserts.
Frigidaire sold 1.3 million units of the defective washing machines, according to the plaintiffs.
Representatives for the parties didn’t immediately return requests for comment on Friday.
Plaintiffs are represented by Kenneth A. Wexler, Edward A. Wallace and Amy E. of Wexler Wallace LLP; R. Brent Irby and Charles M. McCallum of McCallum Hoaglund Cook & Irby LLP; and Lee W. Brigham and John C. Bell Jr. of Bell & Brigham.
Electrolux is represented by John H. Beisner and Jessica Davidson Miller of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP and Benjamin Brewton of Tucker Everitt Long Brewton & Lanier.
The case is Michael Terrill et al. v. Electrolux Home Products Inc., case number 1:08-cv-00030, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Augusta Division.