Samsung Hit With Lawsuit Over Exploding Washers
By Steven Trader
Law360, New York (March 9, 2016, 7:10 PM ET) — Consumers have accused Samsung of breaching its implied warranty and unfairly making money by selling defective washing machines that explode randomly and are prone to “catastrophic failure,” according to a proposed class action filed in Indiana federal court on Wednesday.
Indiana resident Suzann Moore and Texas resident Michelle Soto Fielder say Samsung Electronics America Inc. exposed them to unreasonable harm and unjustly received their money by selling them brand-new washing machines that exploded violently in their homes just a few years later, causing significant damage. Though the machines’ express warranty might have passed, Samsung still sold a product that was supposed be safe but didn’t live up to its intended purpose, the pair said.
“The Samsung top-loading washing machines purchased by Suzann, Michelle and the class members were defectively designed and imposed an unreasonable risk to person and property in that they were prone to explosion,” the consumers wrote. “There is no reasonable or acceptable rate for washing machines to explode.”
Moore says she purchased her brand-new Samsung washer in January 2014 from a Sears in Indiana and claims that it was in pristine condition, without any previous maintenance, until the morning of Dec. 23. On that day, Moore said that shortly after starting a load of laundry, the washing machine exploded violently, with the sides of the machine shooting outward and damaging the dryer next to it.
Samsung initially told Moore that her one-year express warranty had expired but eventually reimbursed her for the washing machine after “countless hours on the phone,” the complaint read. The electronics company never paid for any damage to the surrounding property, though, she said. As part of the deal Samsung collected her old washer, but as far as she knows never tested it for a defect, according to the complaint.
Fielder allegedly bought her Samsung washer in June 2012 and conceded in the complaint Wednesday that the machine had required some previous maintenance, but said it appeared to be operating without issue until it also exploded on Feb. 9.
“Michelle’s washing machine exploded with such ferocity that it penetrated the interior wall of her garage, where it was located,” the complaint read. “The dent left at the washing machine’s point of impact was so deep that it pushed through into Michelle’s living room, which shares a wall with her garage.”
Fielder said she did have an extended warranty in place at the time but was never able to connect with a live Samsung representative.
Moore and Fielder said they believe Samsung has sold thousands of the exploding washers, and have found numerous complaints on SaferProducts.gov, a website sponsored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, from consumers who allegedly purchased Samsung washers that also violently blew apart.
They are seeking to certify a nationwide class of washing machine owners who bought one of eight Samsung brands that met a violent end and destroyed property, according to the complaint.
Because the machines are not fit for their intended use, Samsung essentially earned money for a product that shouldn’t have even been sold, the pair of consumers said Wednesday. Likewise, the company engaged in fraudulent sales practices by promising a high-quality washing machine that it didn’t deliver, the complaint read.
Representatives for Samsung on Wednesday did not return a request for comment, and counsel information wasn’t immediately available. Counsel for the consumers also did not return a request for comment.
The consumers are represented by Scott L. Starr, Andrew B. Miller, Mark S. Fryman and Jacob M. O’Brien of Starr Austen & Miller LLP; Carl Joseph Brizzi III of Carl Brizzi & Associates LLC; and Anthony W. Patterson of Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson LLP.
The case is Suzann Moore and Michelle Soto Fielder v. Samsung Electronics America Inc., case number 1:16-cv-00538, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Click here to view the Complaint.