Whirlpool pushes to limit Energy Star lawsuits

Home appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. is backing a bill that would ban many class-action lawsuits against companies that incorrectly use the federal government’s Energy Star label.

The bill was introduced after a federal audit of the program operated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Department found that many appliances that used the label did not deserve it, the New York Times reported. Some companies slightly changed products for testing or later switched to different materials in their appliances.

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Whirlpool and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers are throwing their support behind a bill introduced by Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that would prohibit class-action suits if the EPA finds another remedy for customers who bought the appliances with the wrong labels, such as reimbursements. The home appliance group told the Times that EPA has the authority to determine if reimbursements are appropriate.

Consumer groups disagreed, saying the lawsuits can serve as a meaningful enforcement mechanism for Energy Star, which labels appliances that meet certain energy efficiency standards.

Whirlpool is facing multiple lawsuits for mislabeled Energy Star products.