Suspended Lawyer Disqualified From Whirlpool Class Suit

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By Perry Cooper

Aug. 15 — A “notorious serial objector” who had his law license suspended was disqualified from representing objectors to a settlement over Whirlpool dishwashers that allegedly catch fire ( Chambers v. Whirlpool Corp., C.D. Cal., No. 11-1733, 8/12/16 ).

Joseph Darrell Palmer was barred from appearing in the case and the objections he filed were stricken in an Aug. 12 order by Judge Fernando M. Olguin of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Circuit Board Defect

Whirlpool Corp. and Sears Holding Corp. settled consumer class allegations that their Whirlpool-, KitchenAid- and Kenmore-branded dishwashers had a circuit board defect that caused the machines to emit smoke and erupt in flames.

The settlement provides full reimbursement of repair costs for class members who experienced an overheating event; cash payment of $200-$300 for class members who replaced their dishwasher within 12 years of purchase; and rebates for class members who want to buy a new dishwasher even though theirs hasn't overheated.

The district court granted preliminary approval in November 2015.

Suspended Law License

Palmer filed an objection to the deal in May, nine days after a California Supreme Court decision suspending him from practicing law for lying about a criminal conviction and corresponding discipline by three state bars.

The plaintiffs moved to have Palmer disqualified, arguing he is ineligible to practice law and has a reputation for filing frivolous objections intended solely to extort attorneys' fees.

Palmer didn't respond to the motion, even after the court requested that he do so.

The court granted the disqualification motion, barred Palmer from appearing in this case and struck the objections he filed.

Rifkin Weiner Livingston Levitan and Silver LLC; Weinstein Kitchenoff and Asher LLC; Cohon and Pollak LLP; Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein LLP; and Chimicles and Tikellis LLP represented the plaintiffs.

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP and Umberg Zipser LLP represented the defendants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com and Jeffrey D. Koelemay at jkoelemay@bna.com

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