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Sears Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Kenmore Washers May Cause Mold

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson
  • 29 Comments

An appeals court has cleared the way for a class action lawsuit to move forward against Sears over problems with Kenmore washing machines, alleging that design defects may cause the development of mold in the clothes washers. 

On November 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago overturned a lower court’s ruling that denied plaintiffs attempts to establish a Kenmore washer class action lawsuit against Sears, Roebuck and Co. The decision will allow the claim to go forward as a class action.

The class action seeks to cover consumers from six states who filed breach of warranty claims against the company, including those from California, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Texas.

According to allegations raised in the lawsuit, the Kenmore washing machines do not clean themselves properly, potentially resulting in mold growth. The affected washers were made by Whirlpool and sold by Sears under the Kenmore label.

There are about 200,000 Kenmore washers with the alleged mold problem sold each year, according to the appeal, and there have been many thousands of complaints involving bad odors reported by owners of the machines.

“Sears argues that most members of the plaintiff class did not experience a mold problem,” the appeals court stated in its opinion. “But if so that is an argument not for refusing to certify the class but for certifying it and then entering a judgment that will largely exonerate Sears – a course it should welcome, as all class members who did not opt out of the class action would be bound by the judgment.”

The court noted that every class member will have to prove they have an odor problem due to the washers in order to collect damages, but even those without a problem can still pursue breach of warranty claims in states that allow relief for “expected rather than for only realized harm” due to a product defect.

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29 comments

  1. Kim Reply

    Kenmore front load washer and dryer both lemons from date of purchase, have had them repaired numerous times & both are broken now, only 4 years old & i cam no longer afford to own them. Would not recommend buying sears brand!

  2. Stephanie Reply

    I have a kenmore front load washer, I have to repeatedly run bleach through the washer due to mold. I leave my washer door open after each wash, but still have mold inside of the seal.
    I also have an ongoing problem with the washer and dryer sencers going of all the time.
    Would not but a front load washer again, I only bought it because it uses less water, and never had a problem with their products before.

  3. Gaby Reply

    Bought both washer and dryer about 6 years ago, but stopped using them due to awful smell on “clean clothes”. We called Sears to have it checked, they were not able to explain the cause of such smell. We then decided to just buy the regular old fashion washing machines. However, we also decided we could not sell the front loaders because we would be lying and cheating people just like Kenmore did to us!

  4. Jean From Iowa Reply

    I had one of these washers I purchased it in 2007. A couple of months after I purchased it it started to leak, also my cloths smelled musty and had to be rewashed often… I got rid of the washer…. I’ll never own a front loader again

  5. Sonya Reply

    Mold is terrible inside of door. I have pictures for proof. I also leave the door open but it does not help. It makes me very uneasy that I am putting clothes in a washer that is filled w/mold, for me and my Children.

  6. lori Reply

    how do you get name added to class action ? our washer 2007 is horrible . bleach don\’t help keeping door open don\’t help
    i think its gross, but what to do it was near 800 back then,

  7. Anna Marie Reply

    Disgusting! My son is allergic to mold and my laundry room is upstairs near his bedroom. It has mold and it smells no matter what I try.

  8. vanessa Reply

    I have a Kenmore front load washing machine. The odor that comes from the machine smells like mold, every I wash a load of clothes I have to rewash that load because of the smell. Sometimes it not until after I have dried that load I smell the bad odor then I would have to rewash, then dry that load again. this has become very expensive. I would’ve never expected this from a KENMORE PRODUCT.

  9. Jamie Reply

    I have complained since the beginning. I HATE my SEARS front loaders. I tell everyone who asks. How do I get into the class action lawsuit????
    I have numerous documented service calls, and have bought the extended warranty, because I need them to clean it out regularly.

  10. Bryce Reply

    We purchased our washer and dryer frontloader around 2 years ago from Orchard (sister dealer for Sears Kenmore). And boy, it\’s been such a hassle dealing with Sears on all levels. The washer rubber liner tube grew mold after a few months and also snaped off the hinges after about a year. The replacement one already has grey/blackish mold on it, I can take pictures to prove it. This after we wipe it down with a washcloth after nearly every load!

    We do have it under warranty but the Sears people have been an absolute nightmare to work with. They kept sending out the wrong replacement part, I lost count after 3. When calling into their call center you speak to what must be Philipinos and they have no clue what you are talking about. We had to wait 2 weeks to finally get a repair guy to come out, meanwhile the laudry is stacking up and we\’re having to go to the inlaws every few days to take care of the laundry. The repair guy that did come out, came at the end of the day, my only day off, hours late. About half hour into looking at the washer not doing a damn thing decided that he couldn\’t repair it today because it required 2 people to do it. He had the gall to suggest resecheduling! And what wait another 2 weeks? Oh hell no! I asked to speak to a manager the guy was evasive on all my inquireis I never got a forthright answer on one damn thing, not a number or name of the supervisor a number to call in. nothing… So I took pictures of the van and licenses plate he drove in on, as he was trying to sneak out, I practically begged the repair guy to do his job volunteering to help repair it. What transpired is story in of itself which I have documented on my camera phone with him flipping me the bird. Yes I have it on camera.

    So in a nutshell, I definitely feel ripped off by Sears, so bad in fact that the wife and I ripped up our Sears card and vow never to go back to Sears again. Btw, our clothes smell like mold. we have to buy new towels every few months.

  11. joe Reply

    i have a kenmore he2 front-loading washer it leaks because of the mold isssue on the rubber. i have had the drum and rubber fixed and replaced twice by sear, and it smells like dirty water i do not know what to do is there a recall, how do i get this issue fixed wright. please help?

  12. Lucy Reply

    I also purchased a Kenmore washer from Sears in 2006. I have had to replace parts in the washer several times. It also has an odor. I have spent a lot of money on the mother board. Was just told that the mother board is out again and it is on back order but cannot tell me when the part will become available.

  13. Lisa Reply

    I purchased front end washer 2010 and notice smell of musty mold stale stink. but did not know where it was coming from. I was told leave door open. but I still have this awlful smell. I really thought it was me, or I was putting enough detergent in. all my clothes have this smell and I can\’t get rid of it. My whole family clothes still. I am upset. enough co-worker under breath said I stink. I have been depressed. this mold in machine has caused all sorts of trouble, yeast infections, uti\’s etc.

  14. Lisa Reply

    I have bought my front end loader 2010 and it has made me so upset; I have smelly moldy clothes. I had to buy more clothes, new towels, and leaving the door open and even using cleaning cycle does not help. How do I get into to this class action lawsuit. I do have proof. This is not great customer service. I wouldn’t expect this from sears or Kenmore company…. Please how to get into this class action suit against sears and Kenmore. thank you

  15. richard Reply

    purchased a new Kenmore washer in 2010 front loader. have been living with dirty smelly clothes ever since. washed clothes smell like mold and are not clean. leave the door open, add cleaning cycles, nothing helps.

  16. phil Reply

    I have a Kenmore HE3 front end washer and have experienced the musty mold smell for several years. About 1 month ago my washer rear drum bearing failed I replaced it myself and when I had the washer drum apart the back of it had tons of mold buildup. I had to use a strong cleaner and had to scrape of the mold because some of the mold would not come off with the cleaner. Really nasty looking stuff just wonder how sick can you get from this mold buildup. Never will buy another front end washer.

  17. Johnanna Reply

    Hi,

    I have a front end washer that creates mold and has been causing us alot of sneezing. I have tried clorox and different laundry detergents but the mold is always there. I thought our sneezing might have been outside allergies but it counted there the winter and after reading the articles I am wondering now if it hasn’t been this darn mold the whole time!. How do I get involved in the class action suit? I can show pictures if needed!

    Thanks sincerely,
    Johnanna

  18. Kathy Reply

    I bought both a Kenmore front load washer and dryer in 2009, but have been unhappy with both sense my purchase. The washing machine has a terrible odor coming out of it and black mold that grows on the seal around the door even though I always leave the door open to hopefully help to dry it out and control the mold and help with the odor problem but it still does it. In order to keep my clothes from having a bad odor, I buy expensive softener additives to the rinse cycle to cover it up but that’s really expensive and adds up quick! Before long I will have spent as much on additives as I did the washer and dryer. The dryer is ok other than the fact that it takes putting a medium load of laundry through 2 cycles to get them dry which adds much to my electric bill each month and then when you take them out the dryer jeans have terrible creases in them and MUST be ironed before wearing. I would never recommend these appliances to anyone!!! I would like to know how to get in on the class action lawsuit. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  19. Julieann Reply

    I have a Kenmore elite front load washer. I also have the musty mold smell coming from the machine. It makes the hole wash room smell and the rooms that are a joint to this room. I have tops that have gotten this smell and I can’t get the smell out of them so I had to throw them away. That can get very expensive throwing clothes away. I also have left the door open for days and the smell does not go away. I’ve tried to use that cleaner made from tide two different times that didn’t help. I hate that smell but I can’t afford to buy another washer. I also had things that had to be fixed on this machine paddles in the machine broke and tore up some rugs , and belt that went around the drum broke .

  20. carol Reply

    I purchased my front loading washer, Kenmore Model he 796 in July 2010. It was installed by Sears. It stinks. I have tried the Tide washing machine cleaner to no avail. I wash at least one bleach load per week. Nothing helps. Can you tell me what my options are?

  21. jamie Reply

    I have a Kenmore front loader washer model 110.45872400 that stinks like mold/must. Have tried everything to get rid of it. My husband had to replace the pump on it. The pump was all black and the corrugated hose was all moldy too. The hose that pumps the water goes into a laundry tub, so I can see what gets discharged out of the machine. Black stuff (chunks) I would never buy another front loader.

  22. Michael Reply

    KENMORE WASHER AND DRYER OWNED LESS THEN TWO YEARS AND HAD THE MOLD PROBLEM FROM THE GET-GO. DRYER SEEMS OKAY SO FAR BUT WE NEED TO CHANGE OUT THE WASHER NOW. THE ENTIRE LAUNDRY ROOM STINKS ALL THE TIME. IF THE DOOR IS LEFT OPEN, THE HOUSE STARTS TO SMELL BAD. HOW STEPID WERE WE FOR BUYING AND TRYING TO WORK THROUGH THE ISSUE? NEVER AGAIN

  23. Jason Reply

    We have a Kenmore Elite HE3 front load washer, This washer has had a mold smell since day one, the rubber has turned black, and now the drum and rubber are falling apart.

    What a waist of money. Not to mention the smell. I wonder how safe it is to be breathing around the washer.

  24. Susan Reply

    The rubber gasket in my Kenmore Front loading washer holds water. It is less then 2 years old and is basically unusable. It makes all of the wash smell like mildew. I use the self cleaning function on the washer and regularly scrub and clean the rubber gasket, however mildew builds up in areas that can not be reached. I leave the door open for days after wash, and it still does not dry out or drain. It is gross and a health concern for my family.

  25. John Reply

    Kenmore washer 110.26002011 stops spinning after loads containing sweatshirts, beach towels, and other bulky items. Had to replace shift actuator 3 times in three years. Sears solution is to advise me to buy an extended warranty???

  26. Shannon Reply

    Bought washer and dryer in 2013 the dryer is fine but the washer door and seal is covered in mold

  27. Kelly Reply

    I have bought the cleaner for the washer and ran it on the clean cycle, I have bleached the washer many times, I have tried everything, leaving the door open in between washes cleaning the rubber seal,my clothes now are all smelling badly in the beginning for some reason it just seemed like the towels. Very disappointed have had to have it repaired several times, things get caught in the trap this washing machine is defective and very bad design

  28. Joli Reply

    The mold story with my 2005 Kenmore elite front loader is a never ending one. I have been living with the mold situation for years thinking “oh well, it is what it is…I’ve meticulously cared for the washer since day 1. My boot looks new, unlike all the other stories that say there is a build up and black spots. Most likely the reason is I have always left the door open since day1 after every wash, and have always wiped out the boot (rubber seal) frequently. I have been bleaching and using other home remedies until now, nothing is working…I cant get the smell out of certain pieces of clothing even after using my other washing machine that I just recently hooked up since I have 2 hookups in the new house…
    I purchased another front loading Frigidaire in 2008, I replaced the boot because it was leaking, and we just started using it since the Kenmore is unusable at this point. It doesn’t smell, but it does have mold already in the brand new boot…UGH!! At least it will work for a while and my clothes don’t wreak of mold at the moment. It was hardly used, and has been in storage for the past 5 yrs.
    Since I moved into the new house, the Kenmore has been the worst its ever been, my allergies have been acting up more than ever, as I am allergic to mold, and it is finally dawning on me that the two could be connected???

    2 years ago, I went into sears and explained my mold issue with the kenmore…they told me that all the old model washes have the mold problem, that it was a bad design and to just buy a new one…obviously I didn’t have another $3000. to change my whole system since I have the matching pedestals etc. So, I’ve just been dealing with it.

    The last few days, I have spent countless hours on the phone with sears, and other appliance repair shops in hopes for help in finding a solution…It came down to finally scheduling an appointment for sears to come out. They want to charge me $109.00 to show up, and if I do the repairs than the 109$ will be applied to the repair…if I don’t choose to do the repair, I’m out the 109$ and am stuck with a moldy washing machine. I pushed for information stating that Sears is aware of this problem, (as its clearly considered a manufacturer defect) asking what they are doing to correct the problem, whether it be take the machine apart and clean all the mold, replace the “outer tub”, hoses or what? I felt manipulated when they are clearly aware of this problem, and couldn’t give me any answers as far as possible solutions to this clearly common problem that they are more than aware of….I know this now after doing further research. They finally wore me out, and I just scheduled the appointment.

    The next day, I continued to think…I will be damned if I am going to wait for 2 weeks for an appointment, and be stuck with a 109$ bill, and a mold filled washing machine when I have a household of kids and adults! So, back on the phone and computer I go…I was convinced that I needed a new “outer tub”, new hoses, etc. I started asking around, researching the cost of parts, and weighing the options of replacing all the parts, OR getting a new one.

    -I found out that replacing all the parts, making the washer new would cost me around $850.00. However, I am wondering if I will have the same issue in the next few years all over again…

    The washing machine has been great, yes I’ve replaced the computer once, and done a couple other things which could be considered “normal wear and tear”, but all in all I don’t want a new washer…I am environmentally friendly. I don’t want to throw away a washing machine, nor give it to a recycler to “re-sell” so someone else gets stuck with this problem…which is potentially harmful to your health.

    -I called Sears to find out about a new one…I found out that there is not a new washing machine which is compatible with my pedestals in which the washer/dryer sit on…in short, I would have to replace the entire system to have everything match and function, getting a new washing machine doesn’t solve the problem…the washer itself is only about $900.00i, but a whole new set will cost over $3000.00 (which is what I paid for it originally)…furthermore, my dryer and pedestals are like brand new..not to mention I purchased the stacking kit in case I move again and have to stack them on top of each other…which again, a new washing machine will not solve the problem:(

    I talked to customer service, and they have now referred me to claims, and after all this, and now seeing that in fact there is a lawsuit pending, I am going to try and work with them on replacing the parts and hope it lasts me another 5 yrs .until I have time and money to replace the whole system…

    My mom has a kitchen aid, which wasn’t purchased at Sears, and she has the same problem…We started doing the bleach technique a year ago.

    I am a used car dealer. I understand “normal wear and tear”. I certainly don’t expect to use an appliance and when something breaks, having it replaced for free..HOWEVER, I deal with recalls from the manufacturer on almost a weekly basis. This issue is not “normal wear and tear”, and it reminds me of the ignition issue with GM…after it killed enough people and caused enough harmful situations they finally had to come clean…

    I’m hoping this issue will be resolved soon, and I will know in the next couple of days what Sears is going to be willing to do to help in a timely fashion…Until then, I can only encourage people to write and keep this alive so the manufactures take responsibility for the poor design and contribute to fixing their mistake.

  29. Cagthy Reply

    How does one get in on this lawsuit? My HE3 has had mold problems from early-on. Tried to get Sears to replace gray gasket as my extended warranty was expiring. They refused. My son has had massive skin problems over the last few years (massive dr and rx bills). THen my husband started with welts, swellings, hospital trip. Now my skin is tiching terribly in odd spots all over. Could this all be attributed to the mold?
    We use allergy-free soap and very little allergy-free softener.
    We leave door open, and drawer pulled completely out between uses. Do not leave it “closed” ever.
    How do we get in on the suit? I believe this mold is sickening all of us.

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