A U.S. District Court judge has overruled a jury verdict for LG Electronics in a suit alleging that Whirlpool Corp. falsely advertised its steam dryers.
LG filed an $85 million suit in 2008 claiming that Whirlpool’s advertised “steam dryers” did not in fact use steam, but simply injected cool water into a hot spinning drum. After a three-week trial, a federal jury in Illinois returned a verdict in favor of Whirlpool on all counts except one under the Illinois false advertising statute. The court denied a request for a permanent injunction to halt Whirlpool from advertising and marketing that its product uses steam.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve granted Whirlpool’s motion for judgment as a matter of law because Whirlpool’s advertising did not occur “primarily and substantially” in Illinois as required under state law. LG “introduced no evidence concerning Whirlpool’s advertisements of its dryers in Illinois” and instead “focused exclusively on Whirlpool’s nationwide marketing practices,” she wrote.
Evidence of a nationwide form of behavior does not constitute conduct occurring “primarily and substantially” in Illinois, the judge ruled. “Contrary to LG’s suggestion, Illinois does not necessarily bar a company harmed by a nationwide practice of false advertising from seeking relief under its laws. To avail itself of Illinois’s [false advertising] statute, however, such a plaintiff would have to establish that the challenged advertising occurred primarily and substantially within the state.”
To read the complaint in LG Electronics v. Whirlpool, click here.
To read the court’s order in LG Electronics v. Whirlpool, click here.
Why it matters: The court’s decision removes LG’s only victory in the case, on the Illinois state false advertising claim, after a jury found for Whirlpool on the Lanham Act and Illinois consumer fraud claims.