Months ago, multi-national conglomerate Samsung recalled its Galaxy Note 7 for product liability concerns after reports of the smartphones exploding or causing fires due to overheated, defective lithium-ion batteries.

Now, a new type of product liability lawsuit has been filed against the company, this time for allegedly exploding washing machines. Three plaintiffs – one each from Texas, Georgia and Indiana – allege in a federal class action lawsuit that the company executives knew for years these machines were at risk of exploding, yet failed to adequately warn customers about the potential for personal injury.

Unlike the problem with the phone, which has been described as a chemical reaction, the issue with the washing machines appears to be that when the machines are heavily loaded, the machine vibrates in a violent fashion. This causes the tub to become unfastened, ultimately ending in a “dramatic centrifugal explosion.” In those three cases, thankfully, no one suffered personal injury. However, that’s mostly due to the fact that people don’t typically sit and watch their laundry as it’s going through the cycle. One woman was standing nearby with her young son, who was just 4, when it suddenly sounded as if a bomb went off. There was another case in which the laundry room flooded. In another instance, metal shrapnel was launched at high speeds into the nearby hall. One victim describes feeling as if the entire house was shaken.

Not long after the product liability lawsuit was filed, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a “safety statement” with regard to these top-loading machines. The agency warned consumers, after receiving several reports of potential accidents, to use only the “delicate” cycle when washing items that are bulky or water-resistant, such as bedding. The CPSC in its statement reports Samsung is cooperating to try to remedy this issue, which pertains to washing machines that are top load and were sold between 2011 and 2016. Although the federal regulator didn’t clearly indicate which models may be affected by this issue, the class action lawsuit claims there are nearly a dozen.

Samsung has declined to address the lawsuit, but has issued a statement saying no incidents have been reported when the machines are used on the “delicate” cycle or at lower speeds. As such users are advised to tap into this mode when washing heavier loads. Most of the incidents that have been reported, either in the media or to the CPSC or in the lawsuit, occurred last year.

Although Samsung insisted the risk of an explosion as “rare,” pictures presented along with the complaint were deeply troubling. In one image, the top of the washing machine was blown completely off. Some machines moved from their original position, having been spun so violently. Drywall nearby was dented with holes or metal fragments and nearby appliances were dinged. Plaintiffs say that if someone had been close enough nearby, they would have been seriously injured.

Several of the cases involved washing machines that were very new – in one instance, just two-months-old.

In addition to compensation, plaintiffs are asking Samsung to not just issue a consumer warning but an outright recall. They are also asking for the discontinuation of these potentially defective machines.

Our San Antonio product liability attorneys know a case like this could succeed on numerous legal theories, including strict liability. This asserts the product was unreasonably dangerous, it caused injury when used as intended and it was not substantially changed from the condition in which it was originally sold.

Contact our experienced San Antonio personal injury lawyers at (210) 308-8811.

Additional Resources:

First it was Samsung phones. Now it’s exploding Samsung washing machines., Sept. 29, 2016, By Katie Mettler, The Washington Post

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