When people put something in a pressure cooker on the stove, they often fail to realize the “pressure” aspect of the pot. However, in rare cases, they may be reminded of this when the pressure cooker explodes. This happens due to a possible defect in the product. The machines are designed with safety features that are intended to prevent these explosions. However, the safety features do not always work as advertised. Sunbeam, the maker of the pressure cookers, has been hit with several lawsuits recently filed by consumers who have been injured by exploding pressure cookers. The cases allege numerous violations of the law both for the actual defects in the product as well as misleading product advertising.
The Science and Mechanics Behind Pressure Cookers
Pressure cookers look like a pot but work somewhat differently. The lid on a pressure cooker is not the same as the cover of a standard kitchen pot. The lid is specially fitted and locks over a rubber gasket. The result is a seal that is supposed to keep the lid in place. The benefit of this tight seal is that food is supposed to cook faster. Water or whatever else is being cooked is able to rise to a higher temperature faster. The higher temperature results from the fact that the steam is trapped in the pot and cannot escape. This results in a 15 pounds per square inch measure of pressure.
Of course, the pot needs to be designed and made properly for the pressure cooker to work as intended and in a safe manner. With that amount of pressure inside the device, there is always the potential for something to go wrong and consumers to get hurt. This is exactly what happened in numerous recent cases as the pressure cooker literally exploded.
Pressure Cooker Injury Lawsuits Have Been Filed
In January 2020, there was a class action lawsuit filed against Sunbeam in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The plaintiffs in the case claimed that they would not have purchased Sunbeam’s product if they knew how dangerous it was. In addition to the class action lawsuit seeking a refund of the purchase price, the named plaintiff in the case is also seeking personal injury damages because she suffered severe burns that left her scarred.
The plaintiffs alleged that the pressure cooker was defectively designed in that the pressure release valve wrongly shows that built up pressure has already left the pot when it is in fact still trapped inside. Not only does the valve wrongly inform users that the pressure inside the pot has been reduced, but the lid also opens before the pressure is gone. This places users at risk because they can open the pot when there is still significant pent up pressure. This will result in them getting hit with scalding hot water. The water inside a pressure cooker will heat up to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit which is enough to cause severe burns.
Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that Sunbeam misled customers by claiming that there was a built-in safety feature that prevented the pot from opening before all the pressure had been released. In fact, users can still take the lid off before that point is reached and they are exposed to escaping pressure. In other words, the plaintiffs allege that the purported safety features do not actually exist. In reality, no customer should ever be able to open the pot while it is still pressurized.
Customers Have Complained About the Possibility of Explosions
The complaint in the class action lawsuit details numerous other customer complaints about the pressure cooker. It showed screenshots of customer reviews that claimed their products also exploded. Not only were numerous reviews posted on websites such as Amazon, but customers also filed complaints with the federal government as well. Apparently, this is a known problem that dates back many years for the Sunbeam product.
The lawsuit alleges that this should have put Sunbeam on notice of a defect in its product if it did not already know it. Thus, it should either have recalled the product or at least warned its customers of the potential for a defect as opposed to still touting its safety features. On the contrary, Sunbeam continues to represent to the public that its pressure cooker is “trusted” and an “industry leader” even after numerous customer complaints about the danger.
The possible product defects have also led to a number of personal injury lawsuits against Sunbeam brought by plaintiffs who claim that they were injured due to the alleged product defect. A second case was brought by an individual plaintiff at the end of January 2020. Like the named plaintiff in the class action, this plaintiff also suffered severe burns from her pressure cooker. This was followed by an additional case brought in March 2020 by a man who suffered similar burns. It is likely that there will be more lawsuits filed against Sunbeam as numerous people have reported pressure cooker explosions.
Other Pressure Cooker Manufacturers Are Also Facing Personal Injury Lawsuits
This is not the first type of pressure cooker to cause severe injuries. There was litigation against another manufacturer that resulted in a settlement. Tristar’s pressure cooker was also alleged to be defective for similar reasons. There Tristar agreed to give purchasers a credit towards a new pot, although the DOJ rejected the settlement because it did not give a thing of value to class members. Tristar is also facing numerous lawsuits that have been brought by customers who also suffered severe burns.
Many customers do not realize the dangers that are inherent in using pressure cookers. They are sold to the public as a safe product that is convenient and effective. However, this kitchen product is not what it seems. Companies have tried to get around this merely by offering a refund or by taking the product back for investigation. However, this means that they are trying to avoid responsibility for the severe injuries suffered by their customers. Now, they are being forced to answer for these alleged product defects in court.