LG Electronics USA Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp. have been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit accusing the companies of making and selling defective washing machines.
In the class action lawsuit, filed September 19, plaintiff Laury Smith accuses the companies of misrepresenting the functionality of LG’s top-loading washers by labeling them as “high efficiency” machines when they tended to fall apart at high speeds. Despite this defect, the companies claimed the machines featured “extra high” spin speeds of 1,050 to 1,100 revolutions per minute.
The washing machines at issue in the class action lawsuit include LG brand models WT5001CW, WT5101HV and WT5101HW; Kenmore Elite brand models 29002, 29272 and 29278.
Smith purchased a Kenmore Elite Model No. 29272 in November 2011. She paid $579.99 plus sales tax for the machine at a Sears store in Hayward, California. Smith filed the class action lawsuit following LG’s recall of approximately 457,000 washing machines in December 2012. This recall took place after the company received hundreds of reports that the washing machines caused minor property damage and injured one person due to excessive vibrations. After the recall was announced, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicated that the design defects posed a risk of personal injury and property damage.
“The defective washing machines have the same inherent design defects that cause them to shake and vibrate excessively during use due to unbalanced loads that cause internal parts to come loose,” Smith says in in the class action lawsuit.
According to the class action lawsuit, customers were instructed to immediately contact Sears or LG for a free repair, which consisted of a software upgrade on the machine. Smith claims that the upgrade simply capped the machines’ spin speed at 700 rpm and did not actually fix the problems.
“The machines were no longer capable of operating at the advertised ‘extra high’ spin speed setting of 1,050-1,100 RPMs,” the class action lawsuit says. “By reducing the machines’ functionality, defendants stopped the violent shaking and movement caused by the design defects. However, this created a different problem for purchasers because the machines were no longer capable of spinning fast enough to remove excess water from clothing at the end of a wash cycle.”
High-speed spin cycles are desirable because they are able to remove excess water from clothing faster, reducing the laundry’s drying time. In her class action lawsuit, Smith claims that customers “were left with soaking wet laundry that required additional spin cycles to be successfully wring out, thereby negating any ‘high efficiency’ or energy saving promises and representations made by defendants” after the alleged “repair.”
Smith says that customers were also told that their washing machines could no longer handle waterproof clothing, mattress covers, plastic mats or outdoor gear.
“The defects described in the recall and defendants’ ‘software upgrade’ render the defective washing machines unsuitable for the ordinary purpose for which they were advertised, marketed and sold — i.e., as high efficiency washing machines. And the machines’ defects are incapable of being repaired in a manner that would enable the defective washing machines to perform as advertised,” the complaint states.
Smith is bringing claims of unjust enrichment, breach of warranty, violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and California’s False Advertising Law.
Smith is represented by L. Timothy Fisher, Sarah N. Westcot and Annick M. Persinger of Bursor & Fisher PA, and Barry L. Davis and Aaron P. Davis of Thornton Davis & Fein PA.
The Sears LG Washing Machine Class Action Lawsuit is Laury Smith v. LG Electronics USA Inc., et al., Case No. 4:13-cv-04361, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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