The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has decided to consolidate all federal lawsuits over the recent Samsung washing machine recalls, centralizing the cases before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
There are currently at least 24 Samsung washing machine class action lawsuits filed in various U.S. District Courts nationwide, seeking financial compensation for thousands of individuals.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that Samsung sold defective and dangerous washing machines, which may begin to shake violently and break apart, causing debris and projectiles to fly from the machines.
Samsung recalled the washing machines last year, following hundreds of consumer reports, including cases where severe personal injuries or property damage were experienced.
Since the first Samsung washing machine recall was issued in November 2016, which impacted about 3 million top-loading units that were already in homes throughout the United States, a steady stream of product liability lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs nationwide.
Given the similar questions of fact and law, Samsung, Sears, and Lowe’s Home centers, all named as defendants in the various cases, filed a motion to centralize all of the cases to reduce duplicative discovery and avoid contradictory pretrial rulings from different courts.
On October 4, the U.S. JPML, issued a transfer order (PDF), assigning the litigation to U.S. District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti in the Western District of Oklahoma.
“On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation,” the JPML wrote. “These putative class actions share complex factual questions arising from allegations that Samsung top-load washing machines subject to a voluntary recall issued November 4, 2016, suffer from design and manufacturing defects that manifest during the spin cycle and cause components, such as the top and drain pump, to detach, break apart, or explode.”
At least nine injuries have been linked to the recalled Samsung washing machines, 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.
Prior to the recall, a warning was issued on September 30, alerting consumers about the risk that Samsung machines may explode or break apart. The warning resulted in 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.
How Samsung handled the recall generated even more ill will among many consumers.
At the time of the recall, consumers were given three options: refund, replacement, or repair. However, many consumers have left comments on this website and social media complaining that Samsung is trying to force them to take the washing machine replacement option, or a discount towards a new machine that forces them to spend more money on the manufacturer’s products.
Many sought to receive a refund, but are complaining that they are being steered away from that option, or being offered pro-rated refunds based on the age of their machine. Some report they are only being offered a fraction of the original price of $450 to $1,500, even if their machine is only a couple of years old.
Consumers also report that the Samsung washing machine “repair” option is not acceptable, consisting of a sticker that is placed on the controls, blocking the more high-powered options, as well as reinforcing the lid. This leaves homeowners with a washing machine that does not have features they paid for, and many suspect they still have an unreasonably dangerous and defective product in their homes.