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"The Supreme Court Must Stop The Trial Lawyers' War On Innovation"

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At Forbes.com, I expand on my earlier post on Sears v. Butler:

Front-loading machines use less water and energy than traditional top-loaders. But because the rubber door gasket is on the side of the machine instead of the top, water can collect around it; if a user does not wipe the door clean between uses, or does not use bleach in his most recent washes, mold can develop and give off what Consumer Reports has called a "musty" smell. The problem affects less than three percent of washers. Even with this possible side effect, Consumer Reports has rated this class of machines "best all around," and notes that users can prevent any mold problems with simple precautionary cleaning.

Nevertheless, Whirlpool has been targeted in an unfairly expansive group of class action lawsuits. The plaintiffs allege that the very fact that any mold reveals itself at all demonstrates the product is defective and that every washing-machine owner is entitled to damages, whether or not they've encountered mold. The claim that Whirlpool has done something wrong becomes substantially less sympathetic when one realizes that every major washing-machine manufacturer is facing a similar class action. Trial lawyers are seeking to profit off of manufacturers' efforts to produce environmentally-friendly machines.

Read the whole thing.. Compare and contrast Andrew Trask's discussion of a Louisiana federal court's rejection of a similar lawsuit, Duvio v. Viking Range Corp., where plaintiffs made a vague kitchen-sink (ahem) set of product-defect allegations against the entire product line produced by Viking Range.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


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The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.