Last month Samsung, the world’s number one producer of smartphones, issued a recall on 2.5 million of its popular Galaxy Note 7 devices. The reason was alarming: This particular model might be subject to dangerous overheating, could catch fire, and might possibly even explode. Through September 15 there had been ninety-two such incidents reported nationally, including twenty-six burn injuries and fifty-five reports of property damage, prompting Samsung, in coordination with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), to recall all Galaxy Note 7s purchased before that date.
The Galaxy Note 7 battery failure problem has led to a number of dramatic stories of small fires and minor injuries, several of which are recounted here. The most high-profile incident in the United States centered on a Florida man who says that his SUV caught fire while he left the phone charging in it. Another Florida man claims to have been burned when his Galaxy Note 7 exploded in his pocket. A Brooklyn, New York, boy had a phone explode in his hands. Finally, the device may have been the cause of a house fire in South Carolina and a hotel room blaze in Australia.
What Went Wrong?
The official explanation from Samsung is that a manufacturing process defect allowed the positive and negative terminals of the battery to come into contact with each other, which is a recipe for disaster. That sort of contact can allow a battery to discharge all of its stored energy quickly. In the case of the new Galaxy Note 7, which uses a battery 17 percent more powerful than the previous version, that’s a lot of power.
If a consumer product bursting into flames because of a battery problem sounds familiar, you’re right. You probably remember the coverage surrounding one of last year’s “hottest” holiday gift items: hoverboards. There were numerous reports of these mini-Segway-like devices catching fire or exploding. In most cases, the problem was with bad lithium-based batteries or with problems related to the battery charging electronics—that’s the same problem experienced by the Galaxy Note 7. In July, the CPSC finally announced the recall of more than a half-million of them.
Unsafe at Any Altitude
In addition to the CPSC recall notices, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has advised passengers not to turn on or charge Galaxy Note 7s while onboard an aircraft and not to stow them in checked baggage. While some reports cited the FAA warning as unusual or even extraordinary, it’s actually in line with previous guidelines: The FAA has recommended caution in the air transport of lithium batteries since at least 2010. The recent notice seems meant more as a reminder to the airlines of safety concerns and an urging to tighten their own standards. The largest US airlines, at least so far, have not issued an outright ban.
New York Defective Product Lawyers
When a manufacturer releases a product which turns out to be harmful to its users or others, the affected consumers have a right to compensation for any property damage or physical injury caused. They may also be entitled to additional damages for other reasons, which might be the case if a defective product causes the user to lose income or wages or to suffer distress (which seems quite likely for unsuspecting users whose phones suddenly burst into flames).
If you’ve been harmed in any way by a defective product, turn to a team with experience in product liability cases. Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP knows what’s involved in claims of this kind, and we can help you move your case forward. Call us today at 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462) or submit the form below to schedule a free consultation to discuss your unique situation.