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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

In previous generations, pressure cookers were considered a potentially dangerous appliance that should only be used by experienced cooks, Turchin said.

But a few years ago, manufacturers began promoting modern versions as safe to use. “Push a couple buttons and you have soup in 30 minutes,” he said.

Promotional materials and product manuals assured consumers that the pressure cooking function will not work unless the cookers’ lids are locked, and that the lid will never open until consumers release the steam that builds up during the cooking process.

But that’s not the case, Turchin said. The Sunbeam cooker and others were made with defective lids that did not always prevent the pressure cooking operation.

Lids are supposed to securely lock when a pin in the lid slides securely into a cylinder. If the pin is not in the locked position, it is supposed to hit a strike plate to prevent the lid from tightening shut, Turchin said. But in some cases, the pin is too short to lock into place. In others, the aluminum lid might be warped, preventing the lid from locking, he said.

And some properly locked models have exploded when their owners follow manufacturers’ directions by releasing steam before opening them, he said.

Sometimes the valve that’s supposed to release the steam gets clogged, Turchin said.

 

Most commonly, victims suffer second-degree burns. But in three or four of the cases that Turchin has represented, the owners suffered third-degree burns and required skin grafts, he said.

Attorneys from the Johnson Becker firm did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Sunbeam’s attorneys.

Sunbeam has made design changes to address the defects but has not changed the model number or packaging, making it difficult for consumers to know whether or not they have a defective unit.

Turchin advises anyone with a Crock-Pot 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cooker to visit the site recall.crock-pot.com to see if the date code on their machine qualifies them for a replacement lid and an installation kit.

Consumers can continue to use their pressure cooker while they wait, the website says. “Just be certain the lid is securely turned to the fully locked position by aligning the arrow on the lid with the lock symbol on the base,” the recall site states.

Turchin advises using extreme caution and concedes, “Not every one of these are going to fail. You just don’t know whether yours will be one that does fail.”

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