Samsung’s recent introduction of the Galaxy Note 7, their answer to the popular iPhone, has been making news, but not for the reason the company had hoped. Shortly after the phones hit the market, reports surfaced of them catching fire while charging. Though early on some speculated that the use of third-party chargers with the phones might be to blame, it quickly became apparent this was not the case. And while damage tended to be limited to the phones themselves, in some cases there was extensive property damage to the phones’ surroundings. In Florida, a car was destroyed when the phone charging inside caught fire, and in Australia, a businessman’s phone exploded and burned his hotel room. Thankfully, there have been no claims of serious personal injury yet.
To the manufacturer’s credit, Samsung has taken swift steps to warn customers who have purchased the Galaxy Note 7 of the potential danger, advising them in its most recent announcement to simply discontinue use of the phones and exchange them as soon as possible. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers move this quickly to prevent potential harm to their customers when they have indications that a product of theirs might be defective.
For example, in 2014 General Motors recalled 2.6 million cars that had a faulty ignition switch, a recall that grew to nearly 30 million cars worldwide. However, the subsequent investigation showed that the company had known about the fault for over a decade before the recall. The company has compensated the families of 124 victims killed as a result of the fault, and litigation is ongoing in further claims. In addition, General Motors was fined by the federal government for their failure to disclose the problem.
In another car-related recall, vehicles using faulty Takata airbags, which can explode when deployed, have been implicated in a number of injuries and deaths. The number of vehicles affected has continued to grow since the problem first came to the media’s attention in 2013, because the airbags were used in cars from multiple manufacturers, including Honda, Toyota, Mercedez-Benz, Ford, Land Rover, and many more. Investigation has shown that the manufacturer suppressed their own test data that showed problems with the airbags, and the U.S. government has faulted auto manufacturers such as Honda for not coming forward with the information they had regarding the problem sooner. Progress in replacing these airbags has been slow, especially in older vehicles.
When consumers buy products, they have a reasonable expectation that what they buy has been conscientiously designed and built to be safe. When manufacturers fail in this duty, they can be held liable for the damages that their products cause. And unfortunately, when companies compound this error by attempting to hide their knowledge of and responsibility for such faults, innocent consumers can get hurt. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, the experienced attorneys at Hodes, Milman & Liebeck can help. Contact us today at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.
Photo credit: Nathan Dornacher