Consumer Products & Services
Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell attorneys represent manufacturers and distributors of consumer products in litigating consumer claims at both the trial and appellate levels.
Our clients' industries are as diverse as appliances, pharmaceuticals, beverages and spirits, food, apparel, household products, automobiles and automotive parts, personal care, electronics, energy, and telecommunications.
The firm has successfully defended manufacturers and distributors of consumer products in numerous class action lawsuits. In addition, we are national trial counsel for several consumer products manufacturers, including GE, Whirlpool, and Skyjack.
We handle the litigation and arbitration of disputes for manufacturers and distributors of consumer products and services related to a variety of legal matters, including:
- Class actions
- Employment and labor
- Environmental torts
- Franchise and distribution
- Premises liability
- Product liability
- Professional liability
- Trade secrets
- Nash v. Michelin North America, Inc. (Ct. Comm. Pls. S. Carolina, Dorchester Cnty.) - Won a unanimous defense jury verdict for Michelin North America in a $66 million product liability trial in South Carolina. The plaintiffs claimed that an allegedly defective Michelin motorcycle tire caused an accident resulting in catastrophic injuries.
- Won in the Sixth Circuit for one of the world's leading kitchen and laundry appliance companies in a multimillion-dollar commercial licensing dispute.
- Following WTO's successful opposition to class certification for an appliance manufacturer, drafted a comprehensive summary judgment motion in a 10-plaintiff, 7-state case that triggered a favorable non-class settlement.
- Won final approval of class settlement and vacatur of a $15 million attorneys' fee award from the Ninth Circuit in a consumer class action for Whirlpool.
- Won dismissal for Skyjack in Pennsylvania District Court in a product liability matter involving alleged injury on a scissor lift. The case was dismissed on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction.
- Elward et al. v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc. (N.D. Ill. 2020) - Defeated class certification for Electrolux in a consolidated putative class action in Illinois involving millions of the company's dishwashers.
- Dzielak v. Whirlpool (D.N.J. 2019) - Won summary judgment against a certified, seven-state class action alleging false labeling and breach of warranty.
- Achieved favorable resolution after winning dismissal of 19 of 25 claims in a proposed class action alleging false advertising of the horsepower output of Whirlpool's KitchenAid blenders.
- Schechner v. Whirlpool Corp., 2:16-cv-12409 (E.D. Mich. 2020) - Defeated class certification in a bellwether case alleging false advertising of innovative self-cleaning ovens. The plaintiffs sought certification of a six-state class in the lead case and filed related actions for consumers in many other states. The court's certification ruling paved the way for a non-class settlement and dismissal of all actions less than a month before the first trial.
- In re Juul Labs Inc. Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation (19-md-02193-WHO, N.D. Cal.) - Serving as lead national trial counsel to a major U.S. distributor of vaping products in federal multidistrict litigation in California. WTO is liaison counsel to all of the distributor defendants in the litigation.
- Advised a national distribution company on litigation strategy concerning federal regulations governing the distribution and sale of electronic tobacco products.
- Won a pair of rare, permanent injunctions against a major distributor that infringed on WTO's client's exclusive distribution territory. The ongoing litigation involves bet-the-company stakes and may have far-reaching repercussions in the industry.
- Represented a Fortune 20 company in an international arbitration hearing that resulted in a settlement, after the hearing concluded, for more than 90% of our client's claim.
- In re Sears, Roebuck & Co. Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation (7th. Cir. 2017) - Won unanimous Seventh Circuit victory in a fee dispute for Whirlpool and Sears arising out of a certified federal class action lawsuit that WTO favorably settled after winning a defense verdict in the bellwether trial of related claims.
- Kljajic et al. v. Whirlpool (N.D. Ill. 2017) - Defeated class certification amid allegations that 2,000,000 Whirlpool-made ovens were prone to overheat. WTO attorneys disqualified the plaintiffs' expert witness and successfully argued that the claims were overly broad and the plaintiffs' purported theories for failure were too many to achieve certification.
- Drafted a winning motion to dismiss in consumer class action litigation for Whirlpool resulting in exclusion of claims and plaintiffs in 42 states.
- Terrill v. Electrolux (11th Cir. 2015) - Authored an amicus brief for interested parties including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers to highlight issues involving the dangers of certifying classes of predominantly uninjured consumers.
- Glazer v. Whirlpool (N.D. Ohio 2014) - Won a complete defense jury verdict for Whirlpool as co-trial counsel in a $66 million certified class action trial in Ohio involving allegedly "moldy" washing machines.
- Brown v. Whirlpool (N.D. Ohio 2014) - Obtained dismissal of class action allegations and 15 of 17 claims against Whirlpool in an environmental toxic tort case. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their remaining claims after the court's ruling.
- Represent Electrolux, a global leader in household and commercial appliances, in certain consumer class actions nationwide and in product liability matters filed in Colorado.
- Tietsworth v. Sears (N.D. Cal. 2013) - Defeated a motion to certify a nationwide breach of warranty class in a case alleging that certain Kenmore washing machines contained defective electronic control boards that caused the machines to malfunction.
- Hadjih v. Evenflo (D. Colo. 2012) - Won a unanimous jury defense verdict in federal court in Colorado for Evenflo Company in a two-week trial involving liability for permanent injuries to a child strapped into an Evenflo car seat during an auto accident. Ultimately, the jury agreed with our argument that the seat saved the child's life rather than caused the child's injuries.
- Savett v. Whirlpool (N.D. Ohio 2012) - Secured dismissal with prejudice of a putative nationwide class action complaint alleging that certain Whirlpool washing machines were "mislabeled" with the Energy Star logo.
- Obtained a preliminary injunction following a full-day evidentiary hearing in a Colorado district court for a large Ohio-based commercial painting company in a case involving trade secrets and a noncompete agreement.
- Defended the appeal to the New Mexico Court of Appeals of a 2009 jury verdict that WTO won for a large food store in a personal injury case.
- WhiteWave Foods, Co. v. Northland Organic Foods (Boulder Cnty. Dist. Ct. 2011) - Won a verdict in Boulder District Court of Colorado in favor of a food production company in a breach-of-contract action it brought against the sole shareholder and officer of an organic food production company.
- Saaremets v. Whirlpool (E.D. Cal. 2010) - Obtained dismissal of a plaintiff's class action complaint alleging false advertising filed against Whirlpool.
- Kail v. Whirlpool (D. Colo. 2009) - Obtained a highly favorable non-class settlement in a putative, multistate class action involving Whirlpool-made wall ovens.
- In re Ford Explorer Cases (Cal. Sacramento Cnty. Super. Ct. 2007) - Defended Ford Motor Co. in a four-month certified class action trial involving $2 billion in consumer fraud claims. On the day set for closing arguments, the plaintiffs agreed to a no-cash, coupon-based settlement for the California class and classes in three other states with pending parallel actions.
- Dennis v. Whirlpool (S.D. Fla. 2007) - Obtained dismissal with prejudice of plaintiffs' class action allegations in a putative nationwide class action alleging that more than one million of Whirlpool's refrigerators were defective.
- Represented footwear manufacturer Crocs in nationwide litigation involving allegations of defectively designed footwear and failure to warn with respect to alleged risks associated with wearing the shoes on escalators.