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Lawsuit claims these popular pressure cookers burst open, scalding consumers

Ron Hurtibise, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Business News

A safety defect in a pressure cooker bought by nearly 1 million consumers has left dozens of users with burns, according to a federal lawsuit filed on Friday.

The suit, filed against Sunbeam Products Inc. in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Florida, claims that Nicole Ashley Alvarez of Santa Maria, California suffered “serious and substantial injuries” following a malfunction of her Crock-Pot Express 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cooker in January 2020.

Her injuries resulted from the pressure cooker’s lid “being able to be rotated and opened while [it] was still under pressure ... allowing its scalding hot contents to be forcefully ejected” onto Alvarez, according to the suit filed by St. Paul, Minnesota-based Johnson Becker.

The model was the subject of a recall by Sunbeam announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in November 2020. Sunbeam received 119 reports of lids detaching from the cooker, resulting in 99 burns “ranging in severity from first-degree to third-degree burns,” the commission reported.

At that point, 914,430 of the units had been sold in the U.S. and 28,330 were sold in Canada. A commission spokeswoman on Monday said the number of consumers who responded to the recall was not readily available.

A report on the commission’s website said that the cooker can pressurize when the lid is not fully locked, which can cause the lid to suddenly detach while the product is in use, “causing burn risks to consumers from hot food and liquids ejected from the product.”

 

But burn risks are not confined to the model sold by Sunbeam, according to an attorney representing several plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Sunbeam that seeks class action status.

Jason Turchin, a Weston-based attorney, said he’s represented clients who claim they suffered burns from similar defects in at least 200 lawsuits against various pressure cooker makers. More than 100 of the suits have been settled, he said.

All of the cases stemmed from claims that consumers suffered burns when scalding hot contents of their cookers exploded unexpectedly.

The claims are similar because the cookers share common design elements. Just a handful of manufacturers in China make almost all pressure cookers sold in the U.S., Turchin said.

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