A federal jury on Thursday threw out a case against home appliances maker Whirlpool in a record time of just under two hours. It is being speculated that the jury strongly felt that the case, which was centered on the company’s front-loading washing machines, was instigated by the lawyers.
The jury in U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Boyko’s courtroom took just under two hours of deliberation to reach its verdict, reported Cleveland. However, the trial lasted for about three weeks, where the jury patiently heard the lawyers arguing that the washing machines made by Whirlpool were costing a lot of money to the users and were heavy on the maintenance.
Speaking about the case and the outcome, Eric Sharon, chief litigation counsel for Whirlpool, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan, said, “The plaintiffs put up everything they had, and after two hours of deliberation the jury returned with a total repudiation of their theory. There was no doubt the jury wasn’t buying what they were selling. Nobody’s been injured, and only 1 to 2 percent of the owners have any complaints. This is lawyer driven, not customer driven. The evidence showed that customers love these machines.”
The lawsuit specifically targeted 20 models of front-loading washing machines made by Whirlpool, reported Business Week. The plaintiffs accused Whirlpool of manufacturing and selling defective machines that regularly accumulated mold. Moreover, they were concerned about the inability of the machine to clean itself.
Lawyers argued that owing to the washing machine’s “poor performance,” buyers had to take “extraordinary and expensive actions.” These “actions” involved running extra cleaning cycles, leaving the door open between uses, and scouring the washer after every use with bleach. The lawyers ultimately stressed that these actions weren’t solving the problems that these machines caused, but only masked them temporarily.
Essentially, the lawyers accused Whirlpool of not investing adequately in the design and development of their washing machines which resulted in these machines having a defective design which caused the 150,000 plaintiffs to spend a “small fortune.”
Whirlpool’s corporate lawyer team strongly feels all the pending lawsuits will have similar outcomes. They are now gearing up for the next trial, which is scheduled for July 2015 in Illinois involving Kenmore washers, which are manufactured by Whirlpool for Sears.
The jury was asked for their verdict on two key-points.
1) Do you find by a preponderance of the evidence in favor of the plaintiff class on its claim for negligent design?
2) Do you find by a preponderance of the evidence in favor of the plaintiff class on its claim for breach of implied warranty?
In both instances, the jury answered “No.”
[Image Credit | La Jolla Mom]