September 20, 2016
The Hunton & Williams LLP legal team representing General Electric in a putative class action won another major victory on September 19, when the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division denied the plaintiffs’ request to file a renewed motion for class certification. The plaintiffs originally sought certification of a nationwide class comprising all owners of GE-branded microwave ovens manufactured since 2000, plus statewide classes in California, Michigan and Ohio. The proposed class originally included approximately 54 million microwave ovens, which the plaintiffs claimed were all defective and justifying of a full refund despite an extraordinarily low reported rate of problems. The plaintiffs’ expert valued their damages at up to $11 billion.
In April 2016, the court denied the motion to certify with respect to the proposed California class, while holding the other proposed classes in abeyance. The decision was based in large part on Hunton’s earlier success in striking the bulk of the plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions as inadmissible. (See Major Victory in General Electric Microwave Oven Class Action).
In July 2016, the plaintiffs sought leave to revamp their experts’ opinions and file a new motion for class certification, limited to just four models (instead of the 600-plus models at issue in discovery and the original motion). The court agreed with GE that “Plaintiffs made a strategic choice to attempt to certify an enormous class and in doing so [their experts’] reports were correspondingly general. They now seek to narrow the class and support it by providing new factual detail and analysis. [But] they can’t.” As a result, the court denied certification of any of the proposed classes, closing the door on what would have been one of the largest consumer-product class actions ever.
GE is represented in this action by Michael Mueller, Neil K. Gilman and Thomas R. Waskom. The case is Robinson v. General Electric Company, Case No. 09-cv-11912, pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.