Whirlpool Oven Defect Suit Denied Class Status

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By Perry Cooper

An expert witness’s “unclear and fluctuating opinions” doomed class certification of a suit alleging Whirlpool ovens are defective ( Kljajich v. Whirlpool Corp. , 2017 BL 154445, N.D. Ill., No. 15-CV-5980, 5/9/17 ).

The witness didn’t identify any specific design defect that causes the ovens to overheat and fail during self-cleaning, Judge Amy J. St. Eve wrote May 9 for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Without expert testimony on the existence of a class-wide defect, individual questions would overwhelm class proceedings, the court said.

The ruling means Whirlpool won’t have to face potential liability for the 2 million allegedly defective ovens sold.

Only Two Ovens Tested

Consumers alleged Whirlpool’s Vision II platform wall ovens—sold under the brands Whirlpool, KitchenAid and IKEA—suffer the same design defect that makes them unusable when the self-cleaning function is run.

Professional engineer Albert de Richemond tested only the ovens owned by the two named plaintiffs, which had already failed, before concluding that all 2 million ovens suffer from a common defect.

That conclusion “leaves too large a gulf in analytical reasoning to qualify as reliable,” the court said.

“Without a common cause, it is impossible to extrapolate from a particular oven’s failure during self-cleaning to learn anything about all (2 million) ovens,” the court concluded.

Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson LLC; and Sullivan Law LLC in Bloomington, Ind., represented the plaintiffs.

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP represented Whirlpool.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

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