Consumers are entitled to expect that products they purchase will work as anticipated; most products come with a guarantee or warranty to that effect. Beyond that, of course, is the expectation that any product purchased will be safe if used in the appropriate manner. In the case of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones, both expectations were violated when a large number of such phones exploded, causing serious burn injuries.

When personal injuries occur as a result of defects in design, manufacturing flaws, or false marketing, the business can be held accountable. This is where the services of an expert product liability lawyer are invaluable. A knowledgeable attorney, aware of the complexities of the law, is able to defend consumer rights and obtain fair compensation for medical costs, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.

First Indications of Serious Problems with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

In the late summer of 2016 it became evident that the lithium-ion batteries from a certain supplier were overheating and causing the phones to catch fire. Samsung received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the U.S. These included 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage. At this time, Samsung advised consumers who saw signs of charring or overheating on their phones to contact Consumer Product Safety Commission and Samsung for any necessary emergency services.

Consumers were advised to look at the special code etched into the bottom of the back of their smartphone and feed that number into the Samsung website in order to see whether it was subject to replacement or refund. Approximately 97 percent of these Samsung phones sold in the U.S. qualified for refund or replacement while the Note 7 qualified for a new battery cell that had, reportedly, been determined to be safe by a third party expert.

Nonetheless, even after consumers replaced their phones, explosions and fires continued to occur. Even before the official complete recall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued warnings that users should stop using the devices and turn them off because of the threat of a battery fire.

The exploding Galaxy Note 7 caused many serious incidents, including:

  • Fire aboard a Southwest Airlines plane parked on the tarmac, resulting in evacuation of the aircraft caused by a Galaxy Note 7 fire
  • Accident in which a Kentucky man woke up “vomiting black” when his Galaxy Note 7 caught fire in his bedroom
  • Burns suffered by a 13-year-old girl when a Galaxy Note 7 melted in her hand

Even more disturbing, the last two of these incidents occurred with replacement phones.

The Galaxy Note 7 Recall

On October 11, 2016, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission officially recalled the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and announced that it would discontinue production of its high end smartphone because of serious fire and burn hazards, an unprecedented move.  The recall included about 1 million of the mobile phones.  Consumers were advised that they could exchange their Galaxy Note 7s for other Samsung devices, or even products produced by other manufacturers, and would receive monetary incentives to do so.

The disastrous story of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 provides compelling evidence that even when companies become aware of product defects and try to correct them, inherent dangers may continue to exist. This is why buyers must always be cautious, even suspicious, of new, relatively untested products and why it is always wise to keep the contact number of a skilled product liability attorney available.