Butler v. Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Federal 7th Circuit Court
Civil Court
Class Action
Case Number: 
Nos. 11-8029 and 12-8030 Cons.
Decision Date: 
November 13, 2012
Federal District: 
N.D. Ill., E. Div.
Affirmed and reversed in part
Dist. Ct. erred in denying plaintiffs’ request for class action certification of plaintiffs’ claims that defendant’s washing machines contained defect that caused mold to form in drum of washing machines. While Dist. Ct. found that class certification was improper because actual manufacturer of washing machines made certain design modifications that prevented plaintiffs from establishing common question of fact, Ct. of Appeals held that plaintiffs satisfied common question element where: (1) record indicated that manufacturer made only five design changes that related to, but did not eliminate mold; (2) all of plaintiffs’ claims contained basic question as to whether washing machines permitted mold to accumulate; and (3) Dist. Ct. could create subclasses should record eventually show existence of large differences in mold defects among five differently designed washing machines. Fact that most members of proposed class did not experience mold problems did not require different result.