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Target and the makers of Instant Pots face a new class action lawsuit over the risk of pressure cookers explosion accidents, alleging the products are defectively designed and put consumers at risk of suffering serious steam injuries.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Brittany Gonzalez and her minor child on June 8, pursuing claims against Instant Brands, Inc. and Target Corporation as the defendants.
According to the lawsuit, advertisements for the Instant Pot pressure cooker claim the design makes it impossible to open the product while the contents were under pressure, due to a number of safety features touted as making the cooker virtually foolproof. However, the lawsuit indicates these statements are inaccurate and misleading.
“The claims set forth in these various sources, all created, published, and distributed by Instant Brands, Inc., through its trademark Instant Pot, are affirmative misrepresentations that caused justifiable reliance among thousands of consumers and users, including Plaintiffs, with disastrous effects,” the lawsuit states. “These representations are not just misleading; they are out-and-out false and put consumers and users like Plaintiffs at significant, undue risk of severe and permanent injury.”
The pressure cooker class action lawsuit indicates Gonzalez bought an Instant Pot “Smart Wifi” model in August 2020, from a Target store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While cooking for herself and her family, including her minor daughter, identified only as N.G. in the lawsuit, Gonzalez saw an error message indicating her food may be burning. She released the pressure valve and began to take off the lid, as the instructions indicate. However, the pressure cooker lid exploded off, spewing scalding hot soup throughout the kitchen and onto her daughter, who was only two years old at the time.
“Brittany Gonzalez used all of her strength to try to keep the lid closed, but the forces from within the defective Instant Pot were too great, and the contents within continued to fly out,” the lawsuit states.
N.G. suffered third degree burns to her face, neck, chest, left shoulder, and left arm. She required debridement and skin graft surgery.
Electric pressure cookers have become an increasingly popular in U.S. households over the past decade, since the introduction of Instant Pot and other new products which tout safety features that avoid many of the risks associated with older stove-top pressure cookers.
The case joins a growing number of similar pressure cooker injury lawsuits filed in recent months, each raising similar allegations about unreasonably dangerous designs and defective safety features on Instant Pots and other modern pressure cookers, including products sold under the Crock-Pot, Ninja Foodi, Tristar and other popular brand names.
The most common injuries claimed in the pressure cooker lawsuits involve burns, which can range from first to third degree and typically cover a large percentage of a person’s body. These types of burn injuries can leave patients prone to infections and sometimes requiring amputations. However, other injuries linked to pressure cookers have included eye injuries, broken bones and other complications that resulted from electrocutions, spills or explosions.
As more of these electric pressure cookers have been introduced in recent years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued several pressure cooker recalls over problems where lids were able to be opened while contents are under pressure, allowing hot contents to be expelled and causing a scald or burn injury to individuals in the immediate area.
Most recently, a massive Crock-Pot recall was issued in November 2020, impacting nearly 1 million 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cookers with lid locking defects, after at least 99 burn injuries were reported.