Consumer class-action lawsuits against Sears and Whirlpool over stinky washing machines can continue.
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the companies’ appeals aimed at blocking the class-action suits because, they contended, only a small percentage of consumers were affected.
The consumers say their front-loading washers didn’t clean themselves adequately, causing foul odors.
The Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from Whirlpool in a case filed by Ohio customers, and from Sears Holdings Corp. in a suit by consumers in six states over Whirlpool-made machines. The court also rejected a similar appeal by a unit of BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeraete GmbH over its washers, Bloomberg reported.
The rebuff is a setback for business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that backed the appeals. The groups sought to build on Supreme Court victories they won in 2011 in a case involving Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and last year in a case concerning Comcast Corp.
Sears said the appeals court decision in the retailer’s case “opens the door to class actions based on any mass-produced product’s failure to meet expectations of a handful of consumers, no matter how few other buyers had the same problem.”