Whirlpool Gets Hearing in Bid to Stop Moldy Washer Suit

Whirlpool Corp. will get a new hearing in its bid to stop a class action lawsuit over moldy washing machines as the U.S. Supreme Court told a lower court to revisit the case.

The justices today ordered reconsideration in light of an opinion they issued last week throwing out a class action case against Comcast Corp.

A federal appeals court let the Whirlpool case go forward as a class action on behalf of 200,000 Ohio residents. The suing consumers say their front-loading washers developed a smelly buildup of mold.

Whirlpool says a class action is inappropriate under the rules governing federal lawsuits because the mold problem affected fewer than 3 percent of the appliance manufacturer’s washers.

Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, says the case is one of nine it faces around the country over the washers. Together, the suits involve more than 1.5 million buyers, the company said in its appeal. At least seven other manufacturers and sellers of front-loading washers are defendants in similar suits.

Philadelphia-based Comcast was accused of monopolizing its hometown market. The suing customers said Comcast swapped territories and subscribers with competitors to ensure it could control the market and charge higher prices. Comcast has denied the allegations.

The high court, ruling 5-4, said the customers didn’t meet requirements for outlining a common method that could be used to determine monetary damages for each of the thousands of individual parties to the lawsuit.

The case is Whirlpool v. Glazer, 12-322.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.