Pressure Cooker Explosion Lawsuit
One night, a Miami, Florida woman was helping her husband make stew. She was using one of the most popular pressure cookers on the market, a device advertised to cook healthy food quickly and deliciously.
When the cooking process was done, she released the steam valve twice “to make sure all the steam was out,” she told CBS News. She then checked the lid, which the product’s manufacturers had advertised as having a safety feature that would prevent opening until the pressure dissipated. The woman was able to turn the lid, so she assumed the cooker was safe to open.
But when she pulled back the lid, the cooker exploded, spewing boiling hot food everywhere. The woman described it as “a volcano erupting.” She screamed and her children came running to help. She suffered second-degree burns on her hands, arms, and chest, and she will have scars for the rest of her life.
Unfortunately, this was only one of many incidences of people getting burned by defective pressure cookers. Some of the victims have been little children. In 2015, for example, a two-year-old girl was severely burned when a pressure cooker exploded in Florida. Her burns were so bad that she later had to have her leg amputated.
Fed up with misleading advertisements and safety mechanisms that don’t perform as expected, an increasing number of home cooks are fighting back by filing pressure cooker lawsuits. They seek to not only recover damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering, but to hold these companies liable for failing to protect the public.
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What is a Pressure Cooker?
A pressure cooker is a hermetically sealed pot that produces steam heat to quickly cook food. The temperature inside the pot can get as high as 266 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme heat penetrates food quickly, making it easy to cook healthy foods fast without losing nutrient content—an appealing idea for families across the country.
French physicist Denis Papin, who called the device the “steam digester”, developed the first pressure cooker in 1679. Early cookers were also used for canning foods. By the early twentieth century, homemakers in the U.S. were discovering the magic of high-speed cooking, which took a giant leap forward in 1939 when the “Presto” pressure cooker appeared on the market. The dangers were there, though, so manufacturers began to develop safety features that would prevent the cookers from being opened unless the pressure was safely dissipated.
New, safety-conscious pressure cookers have become even more popular in today’s market, where busy families seek to return to the health benefits of real food without having to spend hours to make it. Modern innovations like safety locks and pressure regulators have helped more consumers to feel safe when using the products. But unfortunately, some manufacturers have failed to make sure these innovations work like they’re supposed to.
Exploding Pressure Cookers; Causing Burns and Serious Injuries
Consumerwatch.com reports that in 2008 alone, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported 39 cases of pressure cooker-associated emergency room visits. Seventeen of those reports stated that the pressure cooker had exploded or that the liquids had burst forth from the pot, causing serious injuries, including burns. Others stated that users were burned in other ways when interacting with the cookers.
Often, the problem is the lid. Pressure cooker lids are designed to create airtight seals that prevent the hot steam and pressure from escaping. If the seal is broken before the pressure is released, the stored pressure can force the lid off and spew the contents into the environment. Most companies have created safety lids that are supposed to prevent this from happening, but many of these lids are still allowing consumers to open them prematurely.
Injury reports are commonly given to the manufacturers themselves, and these types of reports have resulted in a number of pressure cooker recalls over the past several years. In 2006, for example, 900 Welbilt pressure cookers were recalled after the company received 37 reports of consumers suffering from serious burns, including at least four incidences resulting in third-degree burns. As was the case with the Florida woman at the start of this article, the consumers were able to open the lid prematurely—something the product’s safety devices were supposed to prevent.
The same problem occurred in Manttra pressure cookers, and in 2007, the company recalled over 38,000 to address similar design defects that allowed the hot contents to spill out. That same year, Bella Cucina Zip recalled 8,300 of their cookers after receiving reports of explosions causing burn injuries.
In 2015, Breville USA recalled about 36,000 of their 6-quart electric pressure cookers because the sealing gasket could allow the unexpected release of built-up pressure, increasing the risk of burns. And in 2017, Aldi recalled the Crofton Chef Collection’s 6L pressure cooker because the lids could pop off and result in an explosion.
Meanwhile, many other types of pressure cookers have caused problems, but have not yet been recalled by the manufacturers. The Tristar Power Pressure Cooker XL, for example, has been the reason for dozens of reports on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Safer Products” database. Reports state that even after the steam has been let out, the product can still explode, according to consumers who have suffered burn injuries. Some have even unplugged the device before opening it but still ended up being injured or burned.
Common Causes of Defective Pressure Cooker Explosions
A pressure cooker is supposed to safely contain the pressure that builds up inside it through the cooking process, then safely vent that pressure when the cooking is complete. As long as there is pressure in the pot, the user should not be able to open it. Unfortunately, not all pressure cookers are safe.
A pressure cooker may explode if any of the following conditions exist:
- Faulty lid seals: If the seal isn’t designed correctly, it can result in a leak that leads to a pressure cooker explosion.
- Faulty gaskets: A faulty gasket that allows the user to open the pot during high pressure can lead to an explosion.
- Inadequate venting: If the vent doesn’t relieve pressure when needed, a pressure cooker may explode.
- Defective lid lock: If the lid locking mechanism doesn’t work as it should, the lid may be able to be opened when the cooker is still under pressure.
- Automatic shut-off malfunctions: If there is no automatic shut-off, or if it’s defective, the unit may overheat and explode.
Most pressure cooker manufacturers advertise the safety mechanisms they have on their cookers. But if those mechanisms don’t work as they should, consumers may suffer serious injuries.
Previous Pressure Cooker Lawsuits
Several lawsuits have been filed in courts around the country detailing the accounts of pressure cookers exploding. In November 2021, for instance, a California woman filed a new Instant Pot lawsuit in which she claimed that she suffered substantial burn injuries after her Instant Pot exploded. According to her complaint, she was able to open the lid while the unit was still under pressure.
In July 2021, a Pennsylvania mom filed a new Instant Pot lawsuit on behalf of her two-year-old daughter. She claimed that she was making soup in the cooker on September 18, 2020. Once the cooking process was completed, she noticed an error message on the screen. She released the pressure valve. Once she believed the unit was no longer under pressure, she started to remove the lid.
That’s when the lid shot open, spewing the scalding hot contents into the kitchen and onto her daughter, who was sitting in a nearby chair. The little girl had to go to the hospital to be treated for third-degree burns to her face, chest, neck, left shoulder, and left arm.
In February 2021, a New York woman filed a Fagor EZ Lock pressure cooker lawsuit. Like most other plaintiffs, she claimed that she was able to open the cooker while it was still under pressure—something the safety mechanisms on the cooker were supposed to prevent. The scalding hot contents were forcefully ejected onto her, and she suffered serious bodily injuries.
Several other lawsuits filed in recent years have made similar claims, with the plaintiffs seeking to hold manufacturer Instant Brands, and other manufacturers, liable for their injuries.
Brands of Pressure Cookers Associated with Recalls or Injuries
The following brands of pressure cookers have been linked with injuries, or have been recalled because of defects. Other pressure cookers not included on this list may also contain defects that could lead to eruptions and burns.
- Bella Cucina
- Cook’s Essentials
- Elite Bistro
- Instant Pot
- QVC Electric Pressure Cooker
- Tabletops Unlimited
- Wolfgang Puck
Common Pressure Cooker Explosion Injuries
Common injuries that may occur as a result of a pressure cooker explosion include:
- Burns to the hands, face, neck, scalp, arms, chest, back, and any other part of the body
- Severe burn injuries that take months or years to treat
- Burn injuries to children
- Burns that lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Cuts and abrasions
- Severe impact and blunt force trauma injuries
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries leading to vision loss or blindness
- Electrocution burns
- Serious and life-threatening blood loss
- Significant pain and suffering
Additional Pressure Cooker FAQs
If you have a pressure cooker or you’re thinking about getting one, it’s best to inform yourself about the possible dangers. Our page on exploding pressure cooker FAQs, we answer some of the most common questions people ask about these appliances.
Exploding Pressure Cooker Dangers
Most pressure cookers operate as they should. Many pressure cookers, however, are defective and have caused consumers to suffer from serious, often traumatic burn injuries. There are many dangers that can result from an exploding pressure cooker.
Pressure Cooker Lawsuits
Many pressure cooker lawsuits have already been filed in courts around the country. A Florida couple, for example, filed a Tristar pressure cooker lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida after their cooker exploded and caused them to suffer from serious burns. A Texas woman filed a similar lawsuit after her Tristar pressure cooker exploded and caused her permanent scarring. Another Texas woman filed a Wolfgang Puck lawsuit after she suffered severe burns, and a young father-of-three filed a lawsuit after his pressure cooker exploded and caused burns to his face, arms, and hands.
If you or a loved one used a pressure cooker and then suffered serious injuries such as those listed above, you may be eligible to file a pressure cooker lawsuit to recover damages. Chaffin Luhana is now investigating these cases and invites you to call today at 1-888-316-2311.