Toby Schechner, et al. v. Whirlpool Corporation
Analysis Group Managing Principal Keith R. Ugone was retained by Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP on behalf of Whirlpool in a consumer class action matter involving Whirlpool ovens equipped with the AquaLift self-cleaning feature. The plaintiffs alleged that Whirlpool’s marketing and advertising for its ovens with the AquaLift feature were false, deceptive, and misleading because the ovens allegedly did not clean as advertised. Dr. Ugone, supported by an Analysis Group team that included Vice President Minh P. Doan and Manager Ryan Marsh, Ph.D., evaluated the plaintiffs’ position that their conjoint and a hedonic regression analyses of price premium calculations could be used to quantify class-wide damages using common methods of proof. Dr. Ugone issued two expert reports and was deposed twice.
Judge Stephen J. Murphy III of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, denied the motion for class certification, citing Dr. Ugone’s analysis in his opinion holding that the plaintiffs had “failed to offer a damages calculation that tracks their theory of liability.” In reaching the conclusion that plaintiffs’ conjoint analysis failed to adequately address supply-side considerations, Judge Murphy cited Dr. Ugone’s position that historical transactions reflect only historical supply-side factors, not what the “prevailing market conditions would have been absent the alleged wrongful conduct.” Similarly, in reaching the conclusion that the plaintiffs’ hedonic regression failed to isolate the damages attributable to the defendant’s alleged wrongdoing, the opinion relied on Dr. Ugone’s analysis showing that the price impact of the AquaLift feature could not be economically isolated from the price impact of certain non-challenged features and benefits of the at-issue ovens that were correlated with the AquaLift feature.