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PA & NJ Consumer Injury Alert - Girl's Smartphone Catches Fire (Part 1)

In the news late last month, a 13 year old girl's smartphone caught on fire after she fell asleep with it under her pillow.  She had a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, and like many teens today, she was glued to her phone all day.  When she went to bed that night, she put the phone next to her.  However, it somehow got under her pillow.  She woke up to a burning smell, and as it turned out, the phone was burning her pillow and sheets. *source http://q13fox.com (Samsung phone caught fire under sleeping girl’s pillow, family says)

The phone did not have all of its original parts.  The battery was replaced with another battery made by a third party and not by Samsung. 

A Samsung rep said a warning does come with the battery which advises consumers not to use incompatible cell phone batteries and chargers.  A warning inside the phone's manual also states that covering the device with bedding or other material could restrict airflow and cause a fire.

The girl’s father told reporters that he had no idea that replacing the battery with a non-Samsung part was a bad idea.  He further stated, “We have a reasonable expectation that the products we buy are going to be safe.  If anything, they should put a big warning on it, like a cigarette label, if that’s the case."

Thankfully, the girl was not hurt in this situation.  What happens if the girl was injured due to the phone catching fire? Would Samsung or the company that manufactured the battery be liable for her injuries?  Perhaps.  This article will address the law governing dangerous or defective products and consumers' rights to financial recovery if injured by the products.

Dangerous/Defective Products

In PA and NJ, consumers who are injured by dangerous or defective products may recover financial compensation for their injuries and damages.  For example, a consumer using a blender loses a finger due to the blade breaking off may be able to recover from the blender manufacturer. 

Related Case Result: Products Liability Case Settles Favorably For A Client Injured By A Defective Blender

In order to recover from the manufacturer, a consumer has to prove that the product was defective.  A product can be defective in 3 ways:

  • design defect,
  • manufacturing defect, and
  • inadequate or improper instructions or warnings.

Click here to read part 2 of this article which discusses each of the defects and how the manufacturers may be liable.

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