Saturday, June 11, 2016

Justice, 5% off

By Scott V. Sandford
Legal Correspondent

Among the usual junk credit-card and blind elk charity solicitations, the mail brought what looked like great news, along the lines of winning the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.  We were informed by a very impressive postcard that we had won a spot in a class that had settled a lawsuit against Whirlpool.

What's wrong with our washing machine?
Our prize?  Five percent off purchase of a new Whirlpool washer.  Five percent?  Truly our lucky day, although appliances are perennially on deal at retailers as obscure as Sears, Home Depot, or Best Buy.  To tell you the truth, the more we thought about it, the more we thought we were getting nothing at all.

Fortunately, the ambulance chasers who pursued the class action lawsuit against Whirlpool don't have to settle for worthless coupons.  They are asking for $7,450,000 in fees plus another $7,300,000 in expenses.  Even if the court cuts that award in half, that's still a lot of 5% coupons.

It sounded to us like a scam: plaintiffs lawyers throw a complaint out there, fool around with discovery, and then settle for a big wad of cash for themselves and nothing for their clients.  The defendants, sick of having to sit for depositions, are willing to pay off the lawyers to go away.  The court, eager to clear its calendar, will be happy to approve any settlement that makes the whole case disappear.

The suit claimed that certain washers developed odor problems, supposedly due to a design defect.  We definitely smell something, but it's not coming from our washing machine.

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