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Jury Orders Whirlpool to Pay in Credit Suit

May 11, 1999|Bloomberg News

An Alabama jury ordered appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. to pay about $581 million in damages, after finding that three people who bought satellite TV dishes were misled over credit agreements they signed with the company's former finance unit. The circuit court jury in Hale County awarded $975,000 in compensatory damages and $580 million in punitive damages. Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool said it will appeal the verdicts. The plaintiffs' attorney, who had sought $6.9 million in damages, said the jury wanted to focus attention on the state's poor and uneducated consumers and the lack of legal protections. He expects the award to be cut sharply. A Whirlpool spokesman said he's aware of about 50 cases nationwide relating to the financing arm, which the company sold in 1988 to Transamerica Corp.

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