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July 26, 2012 / Scott Tillett

All Washed Up: Class Action Filed After Washing Machines Lose Energy Star Ratings

On June 1, 2012, purchasers of three models of Maytag Centennial washing machines filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio after the products’ ENERGY STAR rating was revoked by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. The plaintiffs allege that they were the victims of fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment because they paid a premium for energy efficient appliances which turned out not to be energy efficient after all. The plaintiffs also allege that Whirlpool, which owns Maytag, and Home Depot, which sells the machines, violated Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and Ohio’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

ENERGY STAR rated appliances typically cost more to purchase, but provide consumers with a long-term savings in their electric bills. According to the ENERGY STAR website, ENERGY STAR-rated washing machines use 50% less water than unrated machines and, on average, cost only $60 to run each year. In order to qualify for the ENERGY STAR rating, products must be at least 37% more energy efficient than the minimum energy standards mandated by law. When an independent laboratory performed an efficiency test of Maytag washing machines, they found that some models did not meet the ENERGY STAR standards. Now, Whirlpool Corporation and Home Depot are facing fraud charges in a nationwide class action lawsuit.

To prevail on fraud charges, the plaintiffs must show that Whirlpool and Home Depot intended to deceive consumers. It is unclear at this point whether these appliance giants intended to deceive the public by mislabeling washing machines as energy efficient in order to boost sales, or if this was a simple mistake. Only time, and perhaps a jury, will tell.

If you feel that you have been the victim of fraud or other consumer-related injustice, please call Khorrami, LLP for a free, private consultation.


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