Samsung in Legal Hot Water Over Exploding Cellphones

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can you sue for in a personal injury case?”


It’s been a rough month for Samsung as the company has felt heat from U.S. government regulatory bodies, consumer groups and even airlines. The issue surrounds the Galaxy Note 7, a new, large display cellphone, and it’s potential to overheat and explode. The problem is serious enough that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall last week, around the same time as many major U.S. carriers refused to allow passengers to pack the phones in their checked luggage.


Burning on table Charlotte Injury Law FirmThe issue appears to relate to a problem with overheating. The phones, like many other pieces of electronic equipment, use lithium ion batteries. Though these batteries are powerful, they are potentially dangerous because of the liquid contained inside them. Should something go wrong, like a short-circuit, the liquid can spark, starting a chain reaction inside the battery pack leading to overheating and eventually fire. The company so far says it has received 35 reports of smartphones overheating, including a child in Brooklyn who was burned by the phone, a man in Massachusetts whose nightstand was engulfed in flames and someone in Florida whose Jeep caught on fire after the phone exploded. Given the severity of the problem, Samsung has decided to recall very single phone that has been sold, a number estimated to come to 2.5 million pieces of equipment.


So why is the problem impacting Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones more than the other models of smartphones all with lithium ion batteries? Early reports indicate the problem is that Samsung may have squeezed the battery harder than it should have. Experts say that the manufacturer may have put too much pressure on plates that are in contact with the battery which can lead to ruptures. This defect needs to be fixed before the company can continue selling any more Note 7s.


The impact of the defect on a personal level can be tremendous and lawsuits have already begun to be filed. The first such suit was filed in Palm Beach, FL, after a worker at Costco says his Note 7 caught fire in his pocket while at work. He had owned the phone for about 20 days when he says out of nowhere he felt heat radiating out from his pocket. The phone quickly caught fire and began to burn through his pants. He reached down to grab the phone and remove it from his pocket and, in doing so, suffered serious burns on his thumb. He ended up receiving second-degree burns. The man’s lawsuit claims he is owed money for harm suffered due to negligence, breach of implied warranty and product liability.


Hot on the heels of the first lawsuit, is a second one out of Ohio, where a 23-year-old says he suffered second and third-degree burns after his S7 Edge caught fire. In his case, the man was working at a campus bookstore when he noticed a whistling, screeching sound coming from his pocket. Almost immediately thereafter he felt vibrations and saw smoke. The phone then exploded before the man was able to remove it, leaving severe burns across his thigh, groin and lower back.


Government regulators are taking the matter quite seriously and are urging consumers to immediately power off the phones and keep them off until they’ve been exchanged for newer models. The hope is that Samsung is able to fix the problem and replace the phones quickly, before something even worse happens to another unsuspecting consumer.


If you or someone close to you has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.


About the Author

Matt Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.





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