A superior court in California has denied a request by Samsung to dismiss a lawsuit about an exploding e-cigarette lithium-ion battery.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff had purchased the Samsung batteries on the recommendation of an e-cig retailer, and used them without issue until April 14, 2018, when the Samsung battery exploded in his pocket, inflicting second- and third-degree burns on his left leg and genitalia, requiring skin-graft surgery, and leaving him with permanent scarring, discoloration and hyper-sensitivity.
According to the lawsuit, Samsung had known since at least January 2016 that individual consumers were purchasing and using Samsung batteries for use in electronic cigarettes—a use that Samsung allegedly knew would subject consumers to potential harm. Instead of taking meaningful action to limit the risk or remove its batteries from the marketplace, Samsung ignored the problem, resulting in at least 88 cases filed against Samsung for similar battery explosion issues.
Samsung filed a motion for summary judgment/adjudication attempting to dismiss the case, including a request to dismiss claims for punitive damages. The Court denied Samsung’s motion in its entirety, leaving it to the trier of fact to determine not only Samsung’s liability for the harm caused by its batteries, but Samsung’s culpability for punitive damages as well.
“Samsung has known for years that its batteries were being used in e-cigarette products,” said Greg Bentley of Bentley & More, the law firm representing the plaintiff, in a statement. “Instead of getting them off the market, Samsung has taken the greedy path putting profit over safety, evidenced by the huge uptick in sales of just this one model alone—from 14.1 million sales in 2015 to 63.7 million in 2017, and many millions more over the last three years. Enough is enough. We look forward to the jury seeing the evidence and holding Samsung accountable.”
It is believed that this is the first of its kind ruling regarding punitive damages claimed against Samsung involving injuries suffered as a result of an e-cigarette battery explosion.