A class action lawsuit has been filed against Samsung over problems with top-loading washing machines, which were recalled last year amid reports that they may begin to shake violently and explode, resulting in debris that has injured several consumers.
Oklahoma resident Jerry Wells filed a complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on January 13, 2017, seeking class action status to represent all individuals who purchased one of the recalled Samsung washing machines.
According to allegations raised in the Samsung lawsuit, the manufacturer is trying to force consumers to take a rebate option that will result in additional money being spent with the company, instead of paying for repairs or offering a complete refund for the defective and dangerous washing machines.
The case comes only two months after a Samsung top-loading washing machine recall was issued, impacting about 3 million units. The recall followed at least 733 consumer reports that the machines broke apart or exploded due to excessive vibration.
The Samsung washing machines have reportedly caused at least nine injuries, including a broken jaw and injured shoulder from a consumer being hit by pieces of the metal frames or struck while attempting to control the shaking washing machines. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), many of the reports also included incidents of property damage to surrounding walls and floors in laundry rooms.
Before the recall, a warning was issued on September 30, alerting consumers about the risk that Samsung machines may explode. The warning initiated an investigation by both the CPSC and Samsung, which concluded that the impacted top-loading washing machines can lose balance at high spin speeds with heavy loads, such as bedding or bulkier water resistant items. When the loss of balance occurs, the machines may spin out of control, causing excessive vibration that may result in the top of the frame detaching from the chassis, posing an impact injury risk.
According to the lawsuit, Wells purchased his Samsung washing machine new in May 2013. After the recall was issued, he attempted to schedule a repair or in-home modification, but the lawsuit indicates that the Samsung representative failed to show on at least three separate occasions.
“After learning of Samsung’s recall of the Recalled Washing Machines, Wells has not used his Samsung washing machine because of the danger posed from potentially having his washing machine ‘explode’ during normal use,” the lawsuit states. “In addition to being without a washing machine since November 2016, Wells has spent countless hours on the phone with Samsung attempting to have his defective washing machine repaired or replaced.”
The class action lawsuit names Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd as defendants, alleging the manufacturers intentionally delayed and denied repairs for the machines.
The recall statement from Samsung promised customers three choices, which included a warranty extension and in-home repair, a rebate on a new machine, or a complete refund if the consumers had purchased the machine within 30 days of the date the recall was issued. However, the Samsung class action complaint suggests that “Samsung was intentionally cancelling repair of Wells’ Samsung washing machine so that he would be forced to use the rebate, to purchase another Samsung washing machine, thereby creating business for Samsung and saving them money on paying for repairs.”
In reports received by Consumer Affairs, many others have come forward stating that Samsung has either refused to refund them or have also cancelled several appointments, potentially attempting to force consumers to use the rebate option.
Wells is also asking for a court order that would require Samsung to replace parts for all consumers’ washing machines free of charge and in a timely manner, and for the court to bar Samsung from continuing to manufacture top-loading washing machines, given their dangerous nature and poor business ethics.