No decision yet on Sears washing machine class action dismissal or stay request

Amelia Flood Jan. 10, 2011, 9:41am


Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla has yet to decide whether to dismiss, halt or allow a class action over allegedly faulty washing machines to continue.

Hylla heard arguments in September in which defendant Sears Roebuck & Co. asked the judge to dismiss a proposed class action brought by lead plaintiff Therese Dalla Riva.

Barring a dismissal, the company asked Hylla to stay the Madison County suit until a San Francisco federal court decides on a nearly identical nationwide class action pending there.

Dalla Riva's attorneys – Mark Goldenberg and Lori Andrus – argued there were enough differences between the two suits to warrant Dalla Riva's going ahead.

Andrus also heads the team that filed that pending California class action.

Hylla took the matter under advisement and has yet to enter his decision.

Dalla Riva claims that she and others who bought Kenmore Elite Oasis washing machines got products with defective electric control panels that caused the machines to stop mid-cycle.

The Dalla Riva suit also claims that there is a possibility that class members' washing machines could explode.

Sears attorney Michael Williams dismissed the differences in the suit, telling Hylla during September's arguments that the explosion claim was a "red herring."

U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, who oversees the California suit led by Renee Tietsworth, already dismissed some of the claims
now at issue in the Dalla Riva suit.

"You've got some lawyers calling the shots and they didn't get what they wanted there so they've come here because they want a second shot here," Williams said.

Andrus countered that there was enough at issue to keep the Dalla Riva case going.

"These are not made up claims," Andrus said in September's hearing.

Andrus is from the San Francisco firm of Andrus Anderson LLP.

Williams is from the Denver firm of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP.

Stephen Strauss of Bryan Cave LLP of St. Louis also represents Sears.

The Dalla Riva suit is Madison case number 10-L-203.

The Tietsworth suit is on-going in the U.S. District Court for the

Northern District of California. It is case number 5:09-cv-00288-JF.

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