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Sept. 16 — Public attention is focused on overheating and fires in Samsung Electronics Co.'s newest phone, the Galaxy Note 7. But fire hazards also plague the company’s Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone, a recently filed suit asserts.
And a class complaint covering both models may be in the works.
Daniel Ramirez’s Sept. 8 complaint alleges an S7 Edge exploded in his pocket, causing serious burns ( Ramirez v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc. , N.J. Super. Ct., No. not available, complaint filed 9/8/16 ).
As with the Note 7, the phone’s lithium ion battery is identified as the source of the problem.
A lawyer for Ramirez, T. Michael Morgan, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 15 he’s also working on a proposed class action related to the overheating issue in both product lines.
“Our investigation is going further than just a specific model of the Samsung phones and really looking into the totality of their battery manufacturing, sourcing and producing,” said Morgan, who’s with Morgan & Morgan P.A. in Orlando, Fla.
Samsung didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Morgan said he doesn’t know of any other suits that have been filed yet about overheating smartphones, either personal-injury suits or class actions. A Bloomberg BNA review Sept. 19 of complaints filed against Samsung didn’t reveal additional overheating suits.
If Morgan’s firm files a class complaint, it could encompass both the Note 7 and the S7, he said.
The Note 7 was the subject of a unilateral company recall Sept. 2 and a Consumer Product Safety Commission-coordinated recall Sept. 15 (44 PSLR 990, 9/19/16).
The CPSC said in announcing the recall that about 1 million Note 7 phones were sold in the U.S. and 92 incidents were reported, “including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage.”
Samsung concluded from preliminary testing that a manufacturing error put pressure on plates within battery cells, resulting in contact between positive and negative poles, the company told a Korean standards agency (44 PSLR 991, 9/19/16).
“What we think we’re going to find out from discovery is that the race to have the most battery capacity and the fastest-charging battery is what’s leading to these incidents,” Morgan said.
A class action-oriented website maintained by Morgan’s firm featured a post Sept. 14 saying the company offered S7 units as one replacement option for recalled Note 7 phones. Thus, owners could “swap one exploding phone for another,” the firm said.
Another class-action complaint takes aim at another alleged shortcoming of the S7: its water resistance Velasquez-Reyes v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc. , C.D. Cal., No. 5-16-cv-01953, complaint filed 9/12/16 ).
The complaint alleges that Samsung widely advertised some of its Galaxy S7 phones as submersible and capable of being sprayed or doused with liquids.
Yet plaintiff Dulce Alondra Velasquez-Reyes’s S7 phone stopped working after she inadvertently dropped it in a toilet, she alleges on behalf of a would-be nationwide class and California subclass.
Velasquez-Reyes says Samsung wouldn’t repair or replace her phone.
An attorney for Velasquez-Reyes couldn’t be reached for comment.
Samsung, which makes a variety of consumer products, also faces proposed class actions filed in recent months over some of its other products. The complaints include allegations of explosion-prone washing machines and television wall mounts that allegedly fail.
Simon & Simon P.C., along with Morgan & Morgan, represented Ramirez.
Girard Gibbs LLP represented Velasquez-Reyes.
Attorney information for Samsung isn’t publicly available yet.
To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash at MBarash@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ramirez complaint is available at http://src.bna.com/iHC.The Velasquez-Reyes complaint is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/VelasquezReyes_v_Samsung_Electronics_America_Inc_Docket_No_516cv0.
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