By Georgia D. Koutouzos, J.D.
The devices allegedly fail to prevent the lid from being removed with normal force while the unit remains pressurized, despite the appearance that all pressure has been released.
A New Jersey couple has filed suit against Conair Corp., the manufacturer of Cuisinart electric pressure cookers, alleging that the company’s misrepresentations regarding the products’ safety led to significant burn injuries to the wife and their young daughter. Requesting a jury trial and seeking $750,000 in compensatory damages, the complaint asserts causes of action under the New Jersey Products Liability Act for defective design, defective manufacture, and failure to warn, as well as claims for negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranties, and violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (Arias v. Conair Corp., August 25, 2020).
The consumers purchased a Cuisinart electric pressure cooker Model Number CPC-600 from QVC in 2015. Almost three years later and while using the device to cook a meal, the wife was able to rotate and open the lid while the cooker still was under pressure, thus allowing its scalding hot contents to be forcefully ejected onto her and her nearby child. The incident occurred as the alleged result of the failure of the cooker’s supposed "Safety Features," which purport to keep consumers safe while using the product, the couple contends, adding that the product’s operating manual expressly states that the lid of the cooker cannot be opened while the unit retains pressure. The incident also occurred as the alleged result of Conair’s failure to redesign the cooker despite the existence of economical, safer alternative designs, the couple said.
According to the consumers, the company knew or should have known of these defects, but nevertheless continued to sell its pressure cookers to consumers, failing to warn them of the serious risks posed by the defects, failing to conduct adequate safety testing/inspection of the cookers, and failing to recall the dangerously defective products regardless of the risk of significant injuries to users. The device was defectively and negligently designed and manufactured in that it failed to properly function as to prevent the lid from being removed with normal force while the unit remained pressurized, despite the appearance that all the pressure had been released, during the ordinary, foreseeable, and proper use of cooking food with the product; placing the plaintiffs and similar consumers in danger while using the pressure cookers.
The complaint also maintains that the product deviates from the manufacturing and design specifications, formulae, performance standards, and from otherwise identical units of this product type, and that it is unreasonably dangerous due to the pressure cooker’s lid being able to be rotated and opened while the cooker is still under pressure. Reasonable consumers would not have reason to expect that the cooker would retain pressure despite the appearance that all pressure had been released, would not be able to detect any such defect, and would not have any knowledge as to how to prevent such an incident occurring, the complaint states. Furthermore, the pressure cooker did not contain adequate warnings or instructions for use, making it defective and unreasonably dangerous to consumers and foreseeable users.
Requesting a jury trial, the couple is seeking compensatory damages of $750,000 plus interest, attorney fees, costs of suit, and any such other relief as deemed just and proper by the court.
The case is No. MID-L-006133-20.
Attorneys: Michael K. Johnson (Johnson Becker, PLLC) and Ryan Hurd (Anapol Weiss) for Bianca Arias and Eduar Arias.
Companies: Conair Corp. d/b/a Cusinart
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