Dozens of consumers have suffered severe burns after the Power Pressure Cooker XL, a kitchen appliance manufactured by Tristar Products, suddenly exploded during use.
- Terrifying explosions
- Second- and third-degree burns
- Medical expenses and lost wages
Some consumers have chosen to step forward, filing product liability lawsuits against Tristar and demanding financial compensation. Our own attorneys have filed many of these cases, arguing that the Power Pressure Cooker XL is defective and poses an unreasonable risk of harm.
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Home cooks are beginning to file product liability lawsuits against Tristar Products, saying the company’s popular pressure cooker, the Power Pressure Cooker XL, is marred by dangerous defects. Recent reports, including about a dozen complaints submitted to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, suggest that Tristar’s pressure cooker can explode under normal circumstances, shooting searing food and liquids onto unsuspecting consumers.
Is Legal Action Possible?
Many customers have sustained severe injuries, including second- and third-degree burns, requiring lengthy courses of medical treatment. We don’t think families should have to bear these expenses alone. To date, over 20 consumers have filed Power Pressure Cooker XL lawsuits against Tristar to demand financial compensation.
Alongside the members of a national legal coalition, attorneys at the Legal Herald have been influential in leading this growing litigation. At the end of 2017, our own lawyers filed two multi-plaintiff lawsuits against Tristar, representing the claims of 12 separate consumers, in a Pennsylvania State court. Beyond cases involving the Power Pressure Cooker XL, our legal team is actively investigating claims of explosions with pressure cookers made by Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Fagor America, Maxi-Matic and Tabletops Unlimited.
We believe that pressure cookers from multiple manufacturers may be exploding at an alarming rate. To learn more about pursuing compensation in a lawsuit, contact the experienced attorneys at the Legal Herald today for a free consultation.
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Lawsuits: Power Pressure Cooker XL Isn’t “Safe To Use”
Tristar advertises its Power Pressure Cooker XL, both in stores across the country and on the Home Shopping Network, as an “amazing kitchen miracle,” allowing people to speed up their cook times and lock in flavor like never before. The “As Seen On TV” product, its manufacturer boasts, features a number of advanced safety features and is explicitly marketed as “safe to use.” Tristar is insistent, in advertising materials and the product’s operation manual, that the pressure cooker’s safety features “ensure safe use.”
In a video intended for recent purchasers of the device, a product spokesman describes “a lid safety device that prevents pressure buildup if not properly closed, a pressure and temperature sensor control that maintains even heat, a backup safety release valve in case too much pressure builds up, a clog-resistant feature which prevents food from blocking steam and temperature cutoff should the internal temperature rise above safe limits. All these features are designed to make sure that, whether human error or mechanical malfunction occur, using the Power Pressure Cooker XL is always safe.”
To many consumers, this strong language, repeated over and over, would constitute a promise; in no uncertain terms, the manufacturer is assuring customers that, when used in accordance with the pressure cooker’s directions, no harm will befall themselves or their children.
Customers Report Sudden Explosions, Severe Burns
The reality, dozens of consumers say, is very different.
As many home cooks have learned the hard way, Tristar’s Power Pressure Cooker XL can explode at a moment’s notice, under normal working conditions, leading to severe burns and terrifying trips to the emergency room. Understandably, some of these customers have come to a troubling conclusion and now believe the Power Pressure Cooker XL is defective.
To back up their allegations, a number of home cooks have filed product liability lawsuits against Tristar, hoping to hold the company accountable for allowing a “dangerously defective” product on the market. In fact, litigation around the Power Pressure Cooker XL has been going on for years. Tristar’s machine is relatively new; an article by CBS Miami notes that the manufacturer, based in Fairfield, New Jersey, applied for trademarks and copyright protection for the brandname in 2014. But just one year later, two couples, one from Texas and another from Florida, had already sued Tristar.
Tristar Settles Two Pressure Cooker Lawsuits
The first of these complaints, filed after a woman suffered “extensive and severe burns to her body,” was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. In their claim, the Texas couple says a Power Pressure Cooker XL exploded “suddenly and without warning” the first time it was used, spraying scalding pinto beans onto the plaintiff.
Court records say the woman spent 20 days in the hospital for treatment. The case was closed on August 18, 2017 after Tristar and the plaintiff couple reached an undisclosed financial settlement.
The second lawsuit took a similar, though shorter, route through the civil legal system. In June of 2015, a couple from Florida sued Tristar and Bed, Bath & Beyond, where their Power Pressure Cooker XL was purchased, after the device blew up when one of the plaintiff’s was attempting to open the lid. He suffered second-degree burns, while his wife sustained minor injuries on her hand. As in the first lawsuit, Tristar entered a settlement agreement with the couple. The settlement’s amount has not been publicized.
Complaints Of Product Failure
Complaints submitted to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency, suggest that the traumatic explosions described in these two lawsuits are not isolated incidents. To date, the nation’s consumer safety watchdog has received 12 reports of exploding Power Pressure Cooker XL machines.
Many of these reports suggest that the device’s problem lies in the cooker’s “Safe-Lock Lid,” a particular point of emphasis in Tristar marketing materials. The component is designed, advertisements say, to prevent two dangerous situations:
- to prevent pressure build-up if lid is not closed properly
- to prevent lid from opening until all pressure is released
There is substantial evidence, however, that the pressure cooker’s lid does not protect consumers from injury. Take one complaint, submitted to federal officials by a 56-year-old woman on August 9, 2016: “went to open the pressure cooker. Turned the valve to release the pressure and it did not release. Attempted to repeat this step with no change. Went to turn the lid and open the cooker. Pressure cooker contents burst and burned me.” The woman was admitted to a local hospital, treated for her burns and now plans to file a product liability lawsuit.
A second report, filed on April 7, 2016, tells a similar story. The consumer had finished cooking her food and used the Power Pressure Cooker XL’s valve to release the pressure. When she returned to the kitchen, she tried to open the cooker’s lid, at which point “the lid blew and contents exploded all over [her] body.” She was rushed to a nearby ER.
Has The Power Pressure Cooker XL Been Recalled?
Despite numerous complaints, and similar reviews posted to Amazon, no recall for the Power Pressure Cooker XL has been issued.
Recalls are usually initiated voluntarily. The product manufacturer realizes that there’s a problem, informs the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and publicizes the fact that the product should be returned and no longer used. Most manufacturers will also establish a remedy, offering customers a free version of the product without defects or a refund. Federal law obligates companies to report product defects that create a substantial risk of injury immediately.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission can also take matters into its own hands, but the agency likes to play nice. After receiving a sufficient amount of injury reports, the CPSC will reach out to the manufacturer and asks them to start a recall. Most companies do, but some choose to continue selling their dangerous products. When that happens, the government has to sue the company and petition the court for an order to enforce a recall.
Product Liability Law: A Brief Overview
Explosions like the ones that have been reported shouldn’t happen. So long as a customer follows the manufacturer’s instructions, consumer products should not pose an unreasonable danger. American law is very clear on this point. Our civil legal system contains a strong strand of product liability law, established over centuries to ensure that consumers are not exposed to unnecessary harm after they purchase goods or services.
The Doctrine Of Strict Liability
The majority of states, for example, recognize that product liability lawsuits, including ones filed over exploding pressure cookers, are governed by a standard of “strict liability.” Most injury lawsuits are based in the legal concept of negligence; one party can only be held accountable by someone else if they are found to have acted negligently, with an unreasonable lack of care or disregard for the safety of others.
Product liability lawsuits are different. In court, plaintiffs don’t have to prove that a manufacturer acted negligently, missed a critical safety test or did something else that could be called “careless.” Only the defect matters. When a manufacturer, distributor or retailer allows a defective product to enter the stream of commerce, and a consumer is injured due to that defective product, the company is liable for the victim’s injuries.
Sometimes, it’s that simple, though we should note that some states don’t recognize strict liability and the doctrine will not apply to all defective pressure cooker cases.
Types Of Product Defect
So what does a product defect look like? Most state laws recognize three basic types of defect:
- Design Defects – These defects are inherent in the product, “baked in” even before any material goods are manufactured. Something about the way the product was designed is inherently unsafe; a table designed with legs of unequal height is a good example. In alleging a design defect, most plaintiffs will have to show that a financially-viable alternative design could have been adopted to reduce or eliminate the risk of harm.
- Manufacturing Defects – These defects occur due to a problem in the manufacturing process, often described as a departure from the product’s initial design. Something went wrong during fabrication or assembly, but the product slipped through the company’s quality control process.
- Marketing Defects – While we wouldn’t normally recognize these defects as such, manufacturers can be held accountable for failing to properly warn consumers of a known danger, providing insufficient instructions for use or labeling the product inaccurately.
Most product liability lawsuits filed in relation to pressure cookers have alleged defects in design, including various issues with the design of a cooker’s lid, pressure release valve or both. Many plaintiffs also note the strong advertising claims made by cooker manufacturers, suggesting that statements about safety should be considered a marketing defect.
Who Can File A Claim?
Anyone who suffered personal injury when a Power Pressure Cooker XL unexpectedly exploded during normal operation may be eligible to purse a product liability lawsuit. Our experienced attorneys believe that hundreds of consumers may be entitled to financial compensation. Damages secured in a successful lawsuit can be substantial. Injured customers are often compensated for “economic” damages, like medical expenses and lost wages, as well as “non-economic” damages, which include pain, suffering and emotional distress.
In a recent lawsuit filed against the Home Shopping Network (HSN), one couple was even allowed to pursue “punitive” damages, which are awarded against defendants who have acted in particularly egregious ways. The complaint in question, filed in a New York federal court, accused HSN of selling an entire line of defective pressure cookers, Reuters reports.
Is This A Class Action?
While several previous pressure cooker explosion lawsuits have been filed as class actions, which seek to represent a wide group of similarly-affected individuals, our attorneys believe that filing individual product liability lawsuits will provide our clients with the best chance of success. Most lawsuits that involve serious personal injuries are filed individually, even when the product in question has injured a large number of people. Since each person has been injured in a specific way, and incurred unique expenses as a result of their injury, it’s far simpler to consider these damages on a case-by-case basis, rather than approaching the victims as a group.
What Should I Do Next?
Were you or someone you know injured by a Power Pressure Cooker XL? Call our experienced product liability attorneys today for a free consultation. Our lawyers can evaluate your case confidentially, walk you through the legal process and help you protect your rights. If you have a viable case, our attorneys can offer their services on a contingency-fee basis – that means you pay us nothing until we secure compensation. Just contact us today for more information.