A proposed class action alleges a defect can cause certain Whirlpool refrigerators to stop cooling and run above safe food-storing temperatures.
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The 43-page lawsuit filed late last week claims that although Whirlpool Corporation has known for years that at least 56 different Whirlpool refrigerator models fail to keep food cold enough, the company has continued to sell the products to unsuspecting consumers without disclosing the alleged defect. Instead, Whirlpool has misleadingly advertised the refrigerators as “reliable” appliances that can cool themselves and maintain customized temperatures, the filing says.
Be sure to scroll down to see the model numbers of Whirlpool fridges mentioned in the lawsuit.
In particular, the refrigerators at issue come equipped with a thermistor—a sensor that sends a signal to the appliance’s control board when it detects temperature changes—that can become loose or fall off the clip holding it in place, the case claims. Once the thermistor becomes loose or detached, the suit says, a Whirlpool fridge will not sense the freezer temperature properly.
The lawsuit explains that this can cause the appliance to create “excessive” frost buildup, fail to properly defrost, and develop refrigerant leaks. These issues ultimately reduce or eliminate the unit’s ability to cool itself, the filing summarizes.
The lawsuit charges that Whirlpool has “actively concealed” the existence of the thermistor sensor clip defect and continues to mispresent the “performance, durability, capability, and reliability” of its refrigerators to induce consumers into purchasing the products at substantially higher prices. In fact, the suit says, many consumers would not have bought the appliances at all had they known they would fail to properly cool their food.
Whirlpool’s alleged knowledge of the cooling issues
Per the complaint, Whirlpool discovered or should have discovered the cooling problem, namely through pre-release reviews and its “extensive” pre-sale testing processes, before the refrigerators at issue even hit the market. Since releasing the products, Whirlpool Corporation has been made aware of the defect through the high volume of maintenance and repair requests consumers have made in connection with their refrigerators running too warm, the suit says.
Moreover, the company actively monitors reviews Whirlpool refrigerator owners post to its website and third-party forums, many of which detail problems with the products properly cooling food, the filing shares.
For example, a commenter on Whirlpool.com wrote that they were forced to throw away over $400 worth of food after their three-week-old Whirlpool refrigerator would not go below 43 degrees—three degrees higher than the temperature U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems safe for storing perishables. Other consumers have reported elsewhere that the freezer side of their appliances could not maintain an adequate temperature and stopped making ice, the filing relays.
According to the case, Whirlpool Corporation even admitted in a September 2021 technical service pointer distributed to certain service companies and technicians that the defect causes the refrigerators to stop cooling.
The plaintiff, a New York resident, says she was completely unaware of these issues when she bought a Whirlpool 36-inch-wide side-by-side refrigerator nearly ten months after the defendant quietly acknowledged that the product doesn’t work as advertised.
Shortly after purchasing the fridge, both the refrigerator and freezer portion of her appliance failed to maintain their proper temperatures, and the water dispenser rapidly slowed down when dispensing water, the case explains. The woman says she was forced to pay $245 for a new appliance, went without a fridge for more than a month, and lost approximately $730 worth of food.
Although the Whirlpool refrigerators at issue come with a one-year warranty for “defects in materials or workmanship under normal home use,” the company has failed to provide an effective and lasting remedy for these cooling issues pursuant to its express and implied warranties, the suit contends.
Which Whirlpool refrigerators are affected by the alleged defect?
The complaint claims that the following Whirlpool refrigerator models fail to properly cool due to a faulty thermistor sensor clip:
Who’s covered by the lawsuit?
The suit seeks to represent anyone in the United States who purchased any of the above-listed Whirlpool refrigerators.
How do I join the lawsuit?
There’s usually nothing you need to do to join or be included in a proposed class action lawsuit when it’s first filed. If and when the lawsuit settles, those who have been affected, i.e., the “class members,” should receive a direct notice of the settlement and details about what to do next.
If you’ve bought one of the Whirlpool refrigerators mentioned above, or simply want to stay in the loop on class action lawsuit and settlement news, sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter.