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7th Circuit Reverses its Decision in Sears Class-Action

The Thorogood lawsuit against Sears, characterized by the 7th Circuit as purportedly “near frivolous,” concerned marketing of a clothes dryer. It was certified and later decertified as a class action on the ground that no issues could be resolved in a single, class-wide evidentiary hearing, and was ultimately dismissed. Murray, a member of the proposed class, who did not become a party, filed a “copycat” class action, using the same attorney. Following a third visit to the Seventh Circuit, the district court enjoined the Murray suit as defiant of the decertification. The Supreme Court remanded. The Seventh Circuit consolidated the Thorogood and Murray cases for its fourth opinion. On the merits, the court stated that “One would have to have a neurotic obsession with rust stains (or be a highly imaginative class action lawyer) to worry about Sears’ drum,” and that it would “unsay nothing,” in its previous opinions, but vacated the injunction. “We were wrong. The Supreme Court’s decision—rendered after we ordered the injunction … although it does not refer to the All Writs Act, inclines us to doubt that Murray, not having been a party to the Thorogood suit, can nevertheless be bound by a ruling in it, including the ruling decertifying the class.” You can view the 7th Circuit’s decision here.


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