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Judge Posner on clothes-dryer class action



It's tricky to base class actions on consumer expectations, as the plaintiffs found when Judge Posner and a Seventh Circuit panel decertified their class in Thorogood v. Sears, a case against the giant retailer. Relevant passage from the coverage in AmLaw Litigation Daily:

In writing for the panel, Posner takes a whack at what he regards as misuse of the class action system. "The plaintiff claims to believe that when a dryer is labeled or advertised as having a stainless steel drum, this implies, without more, that the drum is 100 percent stainless steel because otherwise it might rust and cause rust stains in the clothes dried in the dryer," he writes. "Do the other 500,000 members of the class believe this? Does anyone believe this besides Mr. Thorogood?" And therein lies the problem, according to Posner. There was no "single understanding of the significance" of Kenmore's claims, and therefore no reason to treat all purchasers of Kenmore dryers as a class. (Parenthetically Posner adds this line, which we cite in case you're interested in the Seventh Circuit's dirty laundry: "At argument, the plaintiff's lawyer, skeptical that men ever operate clothes dryers--oddly, since his client does--asked us to ask our wives whether they are concerned about the rust stains in their dryers. None is.")

More on the case at Above the Law.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.