Can Pressure Cookers Explode?
Pressure cookers themselves don’t explode and typically aren’t harmful products. In pressure cooker explosion lawsuits, the term “explosion” refers to the scalding foods or liquids ejected from defective pressure cookers that burn or injure nearby people. In some cases, pressure has caused lids to explode off cookers and hit people.
Normally, safety mechanisms are supposed to prevent the lid from detaching while contents are under pressure. Pressure cooker explosion lawsuits claim that defects in safety mechanisms may allow the lid to open or detach while the food or liquid inside is still pressurized.
For example, Crock-Pot recalled about 914,000 pressure cookers in November 2020 for potential burn risk because the cooker could pressurize while the lid wasn’t fully locked. The lid could suddenly detach and put people at risk of burns from scalding liquids or foods “ejected” from the product, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Pressure Cooker Lawsuits Claim Defective Design & Safety Features
Internal temperatures in a pressure cooker can reach up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Safety features built into pressure cookers are supposed to prevent pressure cookers from becoming home safety hazards, but pressure cooker lawsuits claim defective product design and safety features led to explosions creating a false sense of security.
For example, Instant Pot says consumers can’t open the lid if the pot is pressurized, and they can be confident the Instant Pot won’t explode, according to a lawsuit filed by Brittany Gonzalez on behalf of N.G., a minor, in June 2021.
Unfortunately, even after Gonzalez believed the pot was depressurized, she was able to remove the lid without much force, and the pot exploded. N.G. was nearby and suffered third- degree burns all over her body that required skin grafts. She suffered scarring, a frozen shoulder and permanent disfigurement.
- Silicone rings or gaskets. These seals around the lip of the pot are supposed to keep steam and pressure from escaping. Faulty gaskets or seals may allow the lid to open despite pressure build up.
- Safe-lock lids. These lids are supposed to prevent pressure from building when not properly sealed and prevent the lids from opening if pressure hasn’t been released.
- Sensors. Sensors keep the pressure and heat in a safe range. They usually warn people when it is too high or the cooker becomes too hot.
- Pressure valves. More than one valve traps and allows steam and pressure to escape safely. Faulty valves may lead to an unsafe build in pressure.
Which Pressure Cooker Brands Are Named in Lawsuits?
Several different brands have been named in lawsuits. Some of the most popular brands are electric pressure cooker brands, including Instant Pot, Crock Pot, Breville and Tristar Power Pressure Cooker XL.
This isn’t an all-inclusive-list. If you suffered injuries after your electric or stovetop pressure cooker exploded, make sure to speak to a lawyer to see if your brand is included in lawsuits.
- Elite Bistro
- Fagor EZ Lock
- Instant Pot
- Ninja Foodi
- Phillipe Richards
- Power Pressure Cooker XL
- Wolfgang Puck
Pressure Cooker Explosion Injuries
The main injuries named in lawsuits are severe burns from scalding liquid or steam coming into contact with skin. These types of burns, called thermal burns, can cause physical and emotional injuries.
Severe thermal burns may cause infections, scarring and disfigurement. In very severe cases, burns may damage muscle or tissue beneath the skin. People who suffer burns may develop emotional problems such as nightmares, depression or flashbacks.
In addition to burns, exploding pressure cooker lawsuits name other injuries, including eye injuries, cuts and scrapes, bleeding and traumatic brain injuries.
Who Qualifies to File a Lawsuit?
People seriously burned or otherwise injured after their pressure cooker exploded may qualify to file a lawsuit. Parents may file a lawsuit on behalf of their injured children.
Depending on the model or brand of pressure cooker, attorneys may accept products purchased before or after a specific date. For example, people who bought an Instant Pot model IP-DUO60 V2 on or before October 2017 may have a case.
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses (for yourself or your injured child)
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages to discourage future negligent behavior by the defendant
Status of Pressure Cooker Litigation
Pressure cooker lawsuits have been filed for years, and the cases are in various stages of litigation. A few have ended in settlements, and attorneys are still accepting cases. Many plaintiffs have already filed pressure cooker explosion lawsuits.
In August 2021, Ralph L. Bollig, Jr. filed a lawsuit against Sunbeam Products Inc. claiming his Crock-Pot pressure cooker malfunctioned and allowed him to remove the lid while it was still pressurized. When the lid was removed, scalding liquid ejected from the pressure cooker causing serious burns.
In July 2021, Deetra Marshall filed a lawsuit against Instant Brands Inc. after her defective Instant Pot exploded, causing serious and substantial burn injuries. Marshall claims Instant Brands, Inc. misled consumers about the Instant Pot’s safety.
How Much Is a Pressure Cooker Explosion Case Worth?
How much a pressure cooker explosion case is worth depends on the injuries and losses a person suffered because of the faulty pressure cooker.
A pressure cooker settlement amount varies on a case-by-case basis, though some lawyers estimate the value may be anywhere from several thousand to millions of dollars.
For example, the family of three-year-old Samantha Gonzalez received a $27 million pressure cooker settlement in 2018 after a Vasconia pressure cooker exploded and left her with second-and third-degree burns. Gonzalez had to have her leg, a hand and several fingers amputated.
7 Cited Research Articles
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- Bollig, Jr. v. Sunbeam Products, Inc. et al. (2021, August 2). Complaint. Retrieved from https://aboutlawsuits-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021-8-2-sunbeam-bollig-complaint.pdf
- Marshall v. Instant Brands, Inc. (2021, July 16). Complaint. Retrieved from https://45ijagbx6du4albwj3e23cj1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021-7-16-instantpot-marshall-complaint.pdf
- Gonzalez v. Instant Brands, Inc. et al. (2021, June 8). Civil Action Complaint. Retrieved from https://aboutlawsuits-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021-6-8-instantpot-gonzalez-complaint.pdf
- Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2020, November 24). Crock-Pot 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cookers Recalled by Sunbeam Products Due to Burn Hazard. Retrieved from https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2021/Crock-Pot-6-Quart-Express-Crock-Multi-Cookers-Recalled-by-Sunbeam-Products-Due-to-Burn-Hazard
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Burns and Wounds. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/burns
- Law.com. (2018, November 20). Broward Lawyers Negotiate $27M for Toddler Burned in Pressure Cooker Explosion. Retrieved from https://www.yahoo.com/now/broward-lawyers-negotiate-27m-toddler-104841246.html
- Memken, J.A. (2018). Electric Pressure Cookers What Consumers Need To Know. Retrieved from https://grayson.ca.uky.edu/files/electric_pressure_cookers.pdf