Pressure cookers, which heat food to temperatures approaching 250˚F in an enclosed, pressurized environment, have a long history of malfunction and injury. Few small household appliances generate that much heat and are left alone so routinely, but this is the basic premise, and draw of a pressure cooker. It also, unfortunately, means that every pressure cooker malfunction could put the safety of you and your household at risk of burns or worse.
The Laws Protecting Consumers
When a customer purchases a product in the U.S., they are protected from unexpected risk and injury involved in the use of the product through a suite of laws that cover manufacturing defects, design defects, and communication about known product dangers. These laws avail consumers of a basic right to the implied safety of a purchased product.
These laws also come in handy when injuries result from the use of defective products. Consumer safety laws apply throughout the chain of distribution, to manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and everyone involved in the lifecycle of the product. These safeguards aim to ensure that preventable accidents like pressure cooker explosions and burns never occur and that there is a mechanism for redress if they do.
How Defective Pressure Cookers Cause Accidents
It is impossible to know whether it’s safe to open the lid of a pressure cooker after it’s done cooking — users rely on the proper functioning of the product for that. When pressure cookers malfunction because of defects, they can explode and cause injury through the sudden release of built-up pressure or electrical charge.
Faulty gaskets, the sealing rings that keep the inside of the appliance airtight, are often to blame when these appliances explode. Improper lid seals or locks can also cause the spilling of hot liquid, particularly after the build-up of high heat and steam. Another potential cause of explosions is when the steam is not allowed to properly vent out of the cooker as it is cooling down.
Consumers are also at risk of injury due to electrocutions. These can occur when the pressure cooker is manufactured with faulty wiring or there is potential for wires to become exposed to fluid due to other parts of the cooker melting away.
What Pressure Cooker Has a Recall Currently?
On November 24th, 2020, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled the 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cooker manufactured by Sunbeam Crock-Pots. This recall affects nearly 1 million Sunbeam Crock-Pots, which are sold by Amazon, Target, Walmart, and other major retailers in the United States.
The recalled Crock-Pots experienced a malfunction where they continued to pressurize, even when their lids did not lock completely. This led to over 100 consumers reporting that the lids detached from their pressurized cookers and resulted in severe burn injuries. Out of these 119 complaints, 99 people reported severe burn injuries, ranging from first to third-degree burns.
The recalled Sunbeam product is model number SCCPPC600-V1, sold between July 2017 and November 2020. Customers should immediately cease using these recalled cookers, and contact the manufacturer to receive a replacement lid that will not detach during use. The number for Sunbeam is 800-323-9519.
Sunbeam has faced lawsuits before, for selling a defective Crock-Pot that exploded and caused boiling contents and exploding pieces of the appliance to strike the victim. And unfortunately, they are not the only company with potentially lethal pressure cookers that have recently been subject to lawsuits.
NuWave LLC, the makers of the Nutri-Pot pressure cooker, recently had a lawsuit filed against them after a Nutri-Pot forcefully ejected its scalding hot contents onto a woman. Nutri-Pot markets its cookers by touting their “Sure-Lock® Safety System”, a patented system that is supposed to stop pressure from building up if the lid is not on correctly, and is also supposed to prevent the lid from being removed while there is still pressure inside. Their marketing materials state it is “The safest digital pressure cooker available”.
In the lawsuit brought against Nutri-Pot the victim states she was left with severe thermal burns on her stomach and legs after using “the safest digital pressure cooker available” and following all of the manufacturer’s instructions. The lawsuit alleges that the Sure-Lock® system contains defective and inadequate safety designs and that NuWave should have known, or knew, that consumers could still open the lid while the cooker was pressurized.
Pressure Cookers That Have Been Recalled in the Past
Of course, Nutri-Pot and Sunbeam are only the latest companies to face lawsuits over dangerous pressure cookers. Millions of home chefs have purchased pressure cookers over the past few years, with pressure cookers breaking Amazon Prime day sales events multiple years in a row. And along with the rise in the use of pressure cookers, there has also, tragically, been a rise in incidents involving pressure cookers injuring consumers.
The following models of pressure cooker have all been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission due to injury risk:
- Breville Fast Slow Cookers: The sealing gasket can be incorrectly inserted upside down on the lid, which can cause burns through the unexpected release of pressure.
- Instant Pot “Smart” Model Pressure Cooker: The thermal probe in the base can conduct electricity throughout the cooker, posing a risk of electric shock.
- Manntra Pressure Cooker: If not closed properly, the lid can open and allow hot contents to spill out.
- Nutrex Pressure Cooker: It can discharge steam at lower pressures than intended, which poses a burn hazard.
- QVC Welbilt Electronic Pressure Cooker: The lid on these pressure cookers can open prematurely while contents are under pressure, causing what’s inside to be expelled.
- Ultrex-Brand Pressure Cooker: Its lid can open while its contents are under pressure.
When to Consult with an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer
At McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, we have over 30 years of experience in litigating product liability cases in Philadelphia and beyond. We take all claims on a contingency basis, and will only charge you attorney fees if we are able to obtain financial compensation for your losses.
McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt welcomes clients local to our Philadelphia offices and those from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and further afield. To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-866-694-5578.