Tide Pod Injury Lawsuit Allowed to Proceed on Implied Warranty Claims Over Chemical Burn

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

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A federal judge has cleared the way for a personal injury lawsuit over chemical burns from Tide Pods to proceed, after refusing the manufacturer’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, allowing a claim for breach of implied warranty to continue.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Ariana Swartz in June 2016, over injuries she suffered when a Tide laundry detergent pod ruptured and sprayed the contents on her neck, chest and arm in October 2014. As a result, she was left with chemical burns, severe skin irritation and nerve damage, according to the lawsuit.

Swartz presented claims for defective design, defective manufacturing, failure to warn, breach of express warranty and breach of implied warranty.

Procter and Gamble, the manufacturer of Tide Pods, filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that there was no way Swartz could establish that her chemical burns were caused by the detergent.

In an order (PDF) issued on May 16, U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Leitman of the Eastern District of Michigan, dismissed most of Swartz’s claims, but allowed the claim for the breach of implied warranty to continue, indicating that there was sufficient evidence to establish a link between the burns and the exploding Tide Pod.

“Swartz did not have a burn on her breast when she began doing her laundry. And only one thing happened to her breast between the time she started washing her clothes and the time the burn appeared on her breast roughly two hours later: her breast came into contact with the concentrated detergent from the POD,” Judge Leitman noted. “Indeed, when the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to Swartz, it would appear to be mere speculation to conclude that the chemical burn on her breast was caused by anything other than the contact with the concentrated detergent.”

The case is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, where it is expected that a trial date will now be scheduled following Judge Leitman’s ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment.

Tide Pod Safety Concerns

The lawsuit is one of a growing number of claims being pursued over Tide Pod injuries, which have also been linked to thousands of reports involving laundry detergent poisoning among children who mistook the small packs for candy or chew toys.

Proctor & Gamble has faced criticism for marketing the single-load laundry detergent packs in bright colors that resemble infant teething toys, and for selling Tide Pods in packaging that resembles candy.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) has reported that more than 10,000 calls involving laundry pod ingestion problems are received nationwide every year involving children five and younger exposed to Tide Pods and other similar laundry detergent packs, such as All Mighty Pacs, Purex UltraPacks and others. As of the end of March 2018, poison centers nationwide had already received calls on nearly 2,000 incidents involving children.

The incidents peaked in 2015, when poison centers received more than 12,000 exposure reports involving children five and under. Recent years have trended slightly downward, as manufacturers made several design changes and more parents become aware of the risks. However, if the current rate continues, this year would still result in about 8,000 exposure reports involving young children.

Those numbers do not include poisoning incidents linked to teenagers and adults. Earlier this year, the AAPCC noted that it has seen a spike in intentional ingestion of Tide Pods and other detergent packets among teenagers, due to an internet “Tide Pod Challenge” that encourages eating the pods on purpose.

In 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued warnings to alert the public about the risk of detergent packet injuries. The safety alert highlighted the poisoning risk the packets pose to children who are exposed to the product, and came after several other regulatory agencies and health experts raised concerns about the risks associated with the single-use detergent packets.

In response to substantial criticism over the brightly colored packaging Tide Pods are sold in, Proctor & Gamble did agree to make several changes to their product packages in 2013.

The manufacturer altered the containers to an opaque material, instead of a clear plastic, to deter children from seeing the brightly colored product and trying to get inside the container. However, many say those changes were not enough.

A number of laundry pod exposure lawsuits are now being pursued against various manufacturers, alleging that inadequate steps were taken to ensure the safety of the products. Plaintiffs say stronger warnings should have been provided about the importance of keeping the pods out of the reach of children, and that individual packaging for the pods would reduce the risk of injury.

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  1. Elizabeth Reply

    I was burned by a tide pod today and it hurts like crazy! Somehow one didn’t dissolve when I was doing laundry and it got stuck to the inside of my shirt – I wore the stupid thing. around till I started feeling the burn. We follow the directions when we use Tide Pods and have always like the product, but this should never have happened.

  2. Brett Reply

    Last night after doing my laundry I took it out of the dryer and got dressed a pair of shoes with fire my laundry after putting on the shoes and leaving my house to go to work my foot sorry burning and itching causing excruciating pain so when I took off my shoe I had to come to realize there was a tide pod not completely dissolved in my shoe which cause a chemical burn on the top of my foot results in thousands of dollars of doctor bills and unable to work do I have a lawsuit

  3. Dori Reply

    Yesterday, I started a load of laundry and the tide pods were stuck together when I pulled them apart one burst all over my shoulder. I have a Severe chemical burn from it

  4. Donald Reply

    Developed a severe rash on inside left thigh and left side of scrotum. Turned purple and started blistering and them pealing of skin. Stung and burned for days. Told my wife it looked like a chemical burn and she said she had a tide pod not to dissolve one day leaving some residual plastic on her shirt. I found that curious and went to look at underwear I was wearing and sure enough there was a piece of plastic pod and stain from detergent on them. Was relieved that we found the problem but still burning days later but discoloration is improving.

  5. Vonda Reply

    I washed my workout suit using Tide Pods. As I was exercising I noticed the left and right side of my back start to itch really bad. I thought my back was itching because I was sweating really bad. About an hour and half later I finished my 5 mile walk on my treadmill. I immediately went upstairs to see what was going on with my back because I could not take the itching any longer. One I got my suit off my back was itching and burning soooo bad. I started to scratch my back to get some relief, and notice soap on my hand. I could not figure out where the soap came from. I looked I the mirror to see why my back was itching so bad, and was shocked at what I saw! Really red, raised bumps, and white flesh where the skin had come off my back. I was still puzzled, and could not figure what was going on with my back. I jumped in the shower to get some relief, hoping the itching and burning would stop. The cool water calmed the the itching and burning a little. I inspected my workout suit and noticed an undesolved tide pod stuck on the inside of my workout suit. Bingo mystery solved. I’ve been too afraid to go to the E.R. due to COVID-19, but I may have to go. The burning and itching has not stopped. I’ve been putting cold wash clothes on the affected areas, and hydrocortisone cream. Not getting much relief….sitting with my back pressed against anything brings on the itching and burning again….

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