Sunbeam, Fagor, Bella, Instant Pot or Tristar Pressure Cooker Explosion?

This video features George E. McLaughlin, a Personal Injury attorney based in Colorado.

Product Liability Attorney Assists with Burn Injuries Nationwide

Video Transcript:

George McLaughlin:

Save the product, save the box, save any materials you have. And contact a lawyer.

Rob Rosenthal:

So could cooking a meal for your family be putting you under them at risk for serious injury, and if you are injured, how do you get help? We're gonna find out right now because we're gonna answer those questions when we ask the lawyer. Hi again, everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.com and my guest is Colorado attorney George McLaughlin. If at any point you wanna ask George questions about your specific situation, head over to AskTheLawyers.com, click the button on the upper right-hand corner that says Ask a Lawyer, it'll walk you right through the process, doesn't cost anything to ask questions. George, good to see again. Thank you for helping us out.

George McLaughlin:

Thanks for having me, Rob.

Rob Rosenthal:

So we're talking specifically about pressure cookers today, like say the crock pot or the Instant Pot. Fill us in, tell us what's going wrong with these things that they're causing injuries.

George McLaughlin:

Well, the problem is that by design and by industry standards, you should not be able to open the lid of a crock pot when it's pressurized under any circumstance, with less than 100 pounds of rotational force, that's like lifting 100 pounds just by twisting your hand, it shouldn't happen, and yet we're finding dozens and dozens and dozens of people across a lot of different brands of these electric pressure cooker products who are getting injured because they find that their pressure cooker lid opens when they thought it was not pressurized and boom. The contents explode out of it causing very serious second-degree burns on their face on their torsos, arms, hands, etcetera.

Rob Rosenthal:

That was kind of gonna be my next question to how serious are these injuries? I'm guessing some of them can be very serious.

George McLaughlin:

Yeah, depending on what you're wearing and what's in the crock pot and just how much pressure was in there. Some people just get a minor burn, but some people are getting really serious second degree burns with blistering and residual scarring on their face, on their chest, on their arms. I have one client that had to be hospitalized for a period of time and medical bills are over $100000 from his burn injuries.

Rob Rosenthal:

Are these just a couple of cases here and there, George, or is this happening to a lot of people?

George McLaughlin:

It's happening to a lot of people. We don't know exactly how many people what happens to because some people don't report it, some people aren't injured enough that they seek medical treatment, or some people don't bother to contact an attorney because it was a minor incident, but there are dozens and dozens of cases that I know of where the injuries were very serious, and it's across several different products, not just the Instant Pot, not just the Bella, not just the Sunbeam brand crock pot pressure cooker. There are a lot of different brands out there, and they all look alike, but they're made by different companies. 

Rob Rosenthal:

So tell us about that. Let's get into the brand. I was gonna ask you, or we're just talking one or two brands or is this pretty widespread?

George McLaughlin:

It's pretty wide spread. There have been, gosh, four or five different companies that I know of that have been in litigation over this: Tristar, Instant Pot, Bella, Fagor, Sunbeam crock pot and there are bunch of others, but those are the ones that I've actively had cases against her or know of myself. The interesting thing, Rob, is that... Well, they have different brand names on them, and you look at the outside of the product, they look a little bit different, but I've got two different models right here, the one in my right hand is an Instant Pot... It's got a label on it 'cause it was evidence in a case, the one on my left hand is a crock pot, Sunbeam crock pot. The one in my left hand, this product was actually recalled. The Consumer Product Safety Commission in conjunction with Sunbeam formally recalled this product, and if you participated in the recall, Sunbeam sent you a new lid. I got this lid from a client of mine who I was representing on something else and we were just chatting, she asked me what I was doing, I told her about these cases, and she said, Oh, I just got a new lid for my crock pot from Sunbeam, and I said, Well, did they make you send back your old lid? But she said, No, if you want it, I'll give it to you. So you gave it to me, and if you look, they're almost identical, the way they look on the inside, and it's the inside the problem, but so I understand it is this little safety pin here is not keeping the lids from opening when they're under pressure. Sunbeam, frankly, did the right thing, and they offered people a lid to fix the problem. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there don't know about the recall with Sunbeam or with TriStar, and they may still have a product out there that is defective and has a defective lid. When it comes to the Instant Pot and Bella, they haven't recalled their products and continue to see cases against all of these companies for these lids that are opening under pressure when they really shouldn't. 

Rob Rosenthal:

Well let's talk about next steps, George. First of all, let's say someone has one of these pots in their house, maybe they're not sure if it's one of the ones that is dangerous or if they know it is. What's your advice if they haven't been injured yet, what's your advice?

George McLaughlin:

If they haven't been injured yet, I'm happy to talk to them and explain to them how to find the date code on the product, because I believe that there is a date, at least with the Instant Pot products, before which they have the lids that are opening and after which, they seem to not be at least not as frequently. Of the Instant Pot cases that I have had so far, they all appear to have been made in the year 2016, and I don't know if after that they've managed to fix the problem or not, but I think if they have fixed the problem, the later dates would be probably products that have been fixed, but I'm happy to chat with anybody that has an Instant Pot product and wants to know when was mine made? And talk with them about how they can do their own self-tests to see if the product is able to open or not with the safety feature in place, there's a way to circumvent the safety feature where you can simulate that it's under pressure while it's not and try to twist the lid, I've done that on an exemplar, there's a thing here called the float valve that pops up and down, you can see it moving, and when that's up, you shouldn't be able to open this.

Well, I can put a little piece of string on that and pull it up and simulate that it's on, that is pressurized, and if you do that and you can rotate your lid, you got a problem. If you do that and the lid doesn't move, alright, you probably have a safe product.

Rob Rosenthal:

And then maybe more importantly, if someone has been injured, you do get injured from the pot, what's your advice then? And what should they do?

George McLaughlin:

Well, several things. First, if you've been injured, get treated, even a relatively minor burn injury can get very serious, if not properly treated, can become infected, it can turn into a real serious medical condition, so if you get burned by one of these products, go to the emergency room, if it's serious enough, if it's relatively minor, talk to your personal care provider about how to treat the burn, that's number one. Number two. Don't use the product again, obviously. I would suggest don't even clean it, take photographs of the mess that it made, because when these things blow, the contents spew out all over the place, and I've seen photographs of the lids actually stuck in an acoustic ceiling because of the force that blew off with, but the contents will go all over the kitchen and take photographs of all that, and then third, give me a call, be happy to talk with the person and tell them what their options are as far as their legal rights, but save the product, save the box, save any materials you have. And contact a lawyer. Ask the lawyers.

Rob Rosenthal:

I would imagine at that point too, George, there's no point in contacting the manufacturer and saying something happened 'cause they're probably gonna say, we'll send it back to us and we'll send you a new one.

George McLaughlin:

Yeah, they will do that. Manufacturers are usually quite happy to get the product from someone who's been injured, keep them away from an attorney and get out of the claim as quickly and inexpensively as they can.

Rob Rosenthal:

Now you've kind of become the go-to person in the country as far as these kind of cases, you've done a lot of the discovery on, collected a lot of the evidence yourself. Tell us a little bit about your experience with these cases, how many are you dealing with, how many people you talk to?

George McLaughlin:

Well, I've resolved a number of cases by settlement, and the settlements are always confidential, so I'm not allowed to talk about that. The manufacture requires they be kept quiet, but I have had success in getting documents from the Instant Pot people, again, most everything that's of interest, they stamp confidential. And I'm not allowed to talk about it, but I know what's there. I know what to go after. I have active cases where I'm counsel of record right now against Instant Pot, I've got depositions coming up in the next few months and they continue to turn over documents to me, and I've got a couple of cases filed against Sun Beam for the crock pot. And fortunately, my clients were injured before the recall occurred, which was in November of last year, going to be pursuing documents and depositions from the Sunbeam people and about to file a case against Bella. Friends of mine have had cases against Bella and we've chatted about the issues there. The issues are the same in all of these cases, the products, the lid looks alike, it has a similar safety mechanism and they're opening under pressure.

Rob Rosenthal:

And then although you're based in Colorado, you can... You will help anybody anywhere in the country that's been an injured, right?

George McLaughlin:

Yes, my products liability practice is a national practice. I don't limit myself just to Colorado. Coincidentally, my first instant pot case was for a Colorado resident, but I just wrapped one up in Seattle, I have pressure cooker cases filed in Florida. What I'm going to be filing in New York, and I've been going all over the country doing product liability work for many, many years, so I just don't limit myself to the state of Colorado. What I do is I limit myself to a product and I learn everything I can about that product and try to become the expert on that product, and then go around obviously saving time and money from my clients because I've been down this road before, I don't have to recreate the wheel with each case.

Rob Rosenthal:

It makes perfect sense. George, thank you for making some time to answer your questions, I do appreciate it.

George McLaughlin:

Thanks for having me, Rob.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's gonna take care of this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Colorado attorney George McLaughlin. I want to remind you, if you'd like to ask George questions about your situation, head over to AskTheLawyers.com, click the button at the top of the screen that says Ask a Lawyer and it'll walk you right through the very simple process right there. It doesn't cost you anything to ask your questions. Thanks for watching, I'm Rob Rosenthal with Ask The Lawyers.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


AskTheLawyers

© 1999-2022 AskTheLawyers.com™

Terms and Conditions / Privacy Policy /
Report an Issue

Legal Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Information entered on this website is not confidential. This website has paid attorney advertising. Anyone choosing a lawyer must do their own independent research. By using this website, you agree to our additional Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.