The product liability lawyers of Johnson Becker, PLLC recently called on those who have bought the “dangerously defective” Instant Pot pressure cookers to come forward if they had suffered severe injuries from using the said appliances.
According to the law firm, two plaintiffs filed a federal class action lawsuit in June 2022, alleging that they experienced second and third-degree burns from the pressure cookers’ lids that opened while the food was still under pressure.
What went wrong with what once was considered the top-selling brand of modern cookers in American homes? What was the extent of the injuries, and what could you do if you suffered the same fate?
This article will discuss the history of the product, a brief rundown of lawsuits that have been filed so far, the remedies under product liability law, and what you can do if you were also a victim.
The History of The Pressure Cooker
The pressure cooker, a sealed pot that produces steam heat to cook food quickly, has been around since the 1670s. It was first introduced to the market as “Papin’s Digester,” named after its inventor, French-born physicist Denis Papin.
Generally, the cooker heats water to produce steam, “which then forces the temperature inside the pot as high as 266 °F (130 °C), significantly higher than the maximum heat possible in an ordinary saucepan,” Britannica explained. The process came with serious risks, and pressure cooking was considered dangerous in its inception.
Fast-forward to the 1950s, this piece of kitchen equipment made use of stamped aluminum models and fabricated stainless steel, which brought new and practical choices to budget-minded homemakers.
However, due to the novelty of the materials, consumers became wary or cautious since inexperienced manufacturers started to penetrate the scene at this stage, and safety concerns emerged.
Decades later, in the mid-70s, only reputable companies were able to maintain their presence, and they started to develop pressure cookers that had additional features, such as an interlocking cover, as well as the introduction of contemporary designs.
Innovations in pressure cooker design started rolling out as the public demanded more options, and today, the modern electric pressure cooker has been aggressively marketed as “safe” and “easy.” The injured customers, however, tell a different tale.
If you or a loved one has suffered burns or any kind of injury from using a faulty pressure cooker, it’s crucial to reach out to a product liability lawyer to recover compensation from the manufacturer. Tribeca Lawsuit Loans can help you with financial assistance for your lawsuit.
Instant Pot: From Cult Following to Lawsuit Central
Instant Pot, sometimes called “InstaPot” by the public, is a kitchen device developed and marketed by Instant Brands, with its founder Robert Wang at the helm.
According to CNBC’s program “Make It,” it took Wang “roughly 18 months to develop the first iteration of the Instant Pot, including finding a manufacturer, ironing out the kinks of design, and tweaking the firmware and algorithms before releasing the first product on Amazon in October 2010.”
Almost a decade later, Instant Pot broke its own Amazon Prime Day record with 300,000 units sold over 36 hours in 2018, with the latter company declaring it to be “among the best-selling products” that it had ever featured on its website.
Instant Brands’ Product Recalls
CNBC further reported that in 2015, Instant Brands recalled more than 1,100 “Smart” model pressure cookers after receiving complaints that users experienced an electric shock when using the said device.
Subsequently, the company also recalled more than 100,000 Gem 65 8-in-1 Multi-cookers due to reports of the product overheating, causing a possible fire hazard.
Instant Pot Safety Claims
The official YouTube channel of Instant Brands boasts numerous “safety features” of their pressure cooker, advertising that customers can be at ease and confident while using it. However, numerous customers’ complaints about explosions and severe burns tell otherwise.
The lawsuits filed by Johnson Becker against Instant Pot alleged “that a more accurate instruction would tell owners to approach their pressure cooker with extreme caution, knowing that it can, in fact, explode, without warning – and through no fault of the owner.”
The lawyers further argued that according to its manufacturer, “when [an Instant Pot] is pressurized, the lid will automatically lock to prevent opening the cooker.”
“That should be comforting to consumers. After all, if that pressure cooker’s lid were to open, its contents could come spewing out at temperatures well above the boiling point,” the law firm said.
“However, despite these comforting words, plaintiffs around the country are alleging that these safety features have failed, causing severe burns and permanent scarring,” it added.
Instant Pot’s Brief History of Lawsuits
The consequences of buying a faulty device pose risks and dangers to its customers. For the ones who purchased a defective pressure cooker, they similarly complained about the following symptoms and injuries:
- Discolored Skin Patches
- Eye Injuries
- First, Second or Third Degree Burns
- Loss of Skin Sensitivity
- Lost Time From Work
- Painful Blisters
- Permanent Scarring
- Skin Grafts
- Thermal Burns
In a media release, the legal team at Johnson Becker listed some of the lawsuits it has filed against Instant Pot so far, which included:
A complaint filed in December 2020: An Instant Pot lawsuit on behalf of a resident of North Cambria, Pennsylvania, who was injured while using an Instant Pot Ultra 3-in-1.
November 2021: An Instant Pot lawsuit on behalf of a client who lives in Whippany, New Jersey, and was injured by her defective pressure cooker just days after its initial purchase.
December 2021: A pressure cooker explosion lawsuit against Instant Brands on behalf of a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, resident who suffered a severe injury in December 2019.
The law firm also initiated a pressure cooker lawsuit filed after an Instant Pot explosion that spewed scalding hot contents caused a burn injury suffered in March 2020 by a Los Angeles, California client.
March 2022: A lawsuit alleged a pressure cooker burned a Sylmar, California client two years prior to its filing. Moreover, another case was filed by a Waco, Texas, client who was also injured by her Instant Pot pressure cooker in March 2020.
May 2022: Another Instant Pot lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Centerville, Ohio, woman who had owned her Instant Pot for approximately six years before sustaining a burn injury after the pressure cooker exploded.
Other Pressure Cooker Manufacturers in Hot Water
Here are the most common factors that cause pressure cookers to explode:
- Blocked or Malfunctioning Vents
- Digital Indication Malfunction
- Faulty Gaskets
- Faulty Release Valve
- Faulty Wiring
- Incorrectly Installed Seals, Lids, or Locks
- Overfilled Pressure Cooker
According to reports, Instant Brands is not the only company in hot water for alleged malfunctions of its pressure cooker line. Other kitchen equipment manufacturers are also scrambling to deal with the mounting lawsuits that have been filed against their dubious safety claims.
Almost a decade ago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that Breville recalled around 35,000 of its pressure cookers. It said the sealing gasket can be incorrectly inserted upside down on the lid, which can allow the unexpected release of built-up pressure. This posed a risk of burns to the user or people near the area.
Reports against TriStar pressure cookers also arose in early 2015, with allegations that the company “knew about the design flaws and did nothing.”
Similarly, in November 2020, Crock-Pot recalled about 914,000 pressure cookers due to a potential burn risk caused by the cooker’s ability to pressurize while the lid wasn’t fully locked.
In 2023, around August, Johnson Becker also filed a lawsuit against Maxi-Matic U.S.A., Inc. for allegedly misrepresenting the safety of its “Elite Bistro” pressure cookers.
In the same month, the law firm also filed a complaint against Sensio, Inc. for its allegedly defective product, the “Bella Multicooker.”
The average settlement compensation payout for a defective pressure cooker lawsuit is reportedly around $125,000 to $200,000 for second-degree burns and $600,000 to $2,000,000 for third-degree burns.
For cases that involve facial injuries or permanent disfigurement, the damages can be reasonably expected to be higher.
If you or a loved one has suffered these injuries, it’s crucial to contact a product liability lawyer for urgent legal assistance. Tribeca Lawsuit Loans can also help with your financial concerns.
What Is A ‘Product Liability’ Lawsuit?
Pressure cooker manufacturers are bound by their legal obligation to ensure the safety of their products. This responsibility falls under the doctrine of “product liability.”
It can fall under “negligence,” but it is generally associated with “strict liability,” meaning that companies or manufacturers can be held liable regardless of their intent or knowledge of their products’ flaws.
It can fall under certain categories:
- Breach of warranty, where a product breaches an express or implied warranty;
- Design defect, where the design of a product itself was unsafe and there existed safer alternatives;
- Manufacturing defect, where the manufacturing of a product was done incorrectly;
- Marketing defect, where there is inadequate warning of the product risks.
Lex Machina reported that there were almost 6,000 product liability cases litigated in federal district courts in 2022, with more than $200 million in total damages awarded in class action settlement damages in the last five years.
How Can I Apply For Product Liability Legal Funding?
Lawsuits against major corporations for product liability issues have the potential to become dragged-out legal battles, lasting longer than what an injured client is prepared to wait.
It’s because these companies, well aware of their financial advantage, deliberately delay the legal proceedings.
They hire only brilliant and cutthroat lawyers who know how to maneuver the system, with the aim of burdening plaintiffs with legal bills on top of their day-to-day expenses.
In the end, these greedy manufacturers get what they want: disgruntled buyers who are forced into agreeing to unfair settlements.
We’re here to tell you that all hope is not lost. Lawsuit loan companies offer a solution for plaintiffs to access a portion of their future settlement funds in advance.
After you find the right lawyer for your needs, you can discuss the possibility of applying for lawsuit funding. In your application, you’ll need to provide the following information about your case when required:
- The value of your damages
- How long your case is expected to last before concluding
- How much your settlement or compensation is likely to be
- The strength of your evidence
Let Tribeca Lawsuit Loans Be Your Partner
We have handled hundreds of product liability lawsuits and don’t intend to stop being there for those who need us the most.
At Tribeca Lawsuit Loans, we have provided over $45 million in funding for a case like yours, that’s why we stand as a prominent leader in the legal funding industry with our proven track record.
If you plan on joining an Instant Pot class action lawsuit or if you desire to sue a different manufacturer for a defective product, we can fund your lawsuit. We’ve provided our clients with anywhere from $500 to $2,000,000.