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Samsung may face product liability for exploding phones

Cell phones are so common that they almost seem like they are part of the human hand. People in Ohio are seldom without them, checking them first thing in the morning and keeping them close by the bed at night. Despite warnings that the batteries may be toxic, many people carry cell phones in their pockets or on their belts. Recently, however, startling reports may have cell phone users rethinking the proximity in which they keep their devices, and others may be considering filing product liability claims.

The trouble began when Galaxy Note 7 phones started combusting and causing fires. People reported incidences of houses and vehicles burning following the explosions of the lithium-ion batteries that power the phones. In light of the reports, airlines around the world have now banned the phones, citing at least 171 cases of lithium-ion batteries combusting in flight since 1991. Lithium-ion batteries are also used in laptops and many electronic toys.

Following a voluntary recall of the popular phones, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd began the uphill battle of assuaging its customers by offering replacement phones and gift cards. However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced it was preparing an official national recall. Meanwhile, the government agency urged all owners of Galaxy Note 7 phones in Ohio and across the country to turn the phones off and cease using them.

Samsung may now be bracing for an onslaught of product liability claims. Certainly those who lost their homes and property in a fire ignited by an exploding cell phone have reason to consult an attorney, but there is no telling the amount of physical injury that could be suffered if a defective phone explodes in someone's pocket. It is reasonable to expect that such injuries have yet to be reported, and the trouble for Samsung may be just beginning.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Samsung, U.S.: Stop Using Galaxy 7 Note Phones Over Fire Risk", Se Young Lee and Jeffrey Dastin, Sept. 9, 2016

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