Samsung Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Exploding Galaxy Note 7

Galaxy Note 7 owners are seeking reimbursement for their cell phone service plans.

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Oct 18 2016, 3:34pm

Image: Shutterstock

Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 troubles are continuing—the company was just hit with a class action lawsuit in New Jersey focused on recovering cell phone contract fees for customers who were left with an unusable phone for several weeks.

Last week, after an earlier recall, the company announced it was officially shutting down production of the Galaxy Note 7 and said it would destroy all of the phones it had sold because it could not determine why at least 112 of them had exploded.

The suit has three initial plaintiffs, who say that they were left without a phone for the several weeks between when Samsung and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission originally issued a recall and told consumers to "power down" their devices (September 9), and when the company began offering replacement devices (September 21). It also notes that Samsung didn't make enough replacement devices immediately available—which is probably a good thing considering that the company ultimately had to recall those as well.

"Samsung informed consumers they would have to wait several days, and even weeks in many cases, before receiving a replacement smartphone," the suit alleges. "During this time, and as a result of Defendant failing to provide consumers with an adequate replacement, consumers continued to incur monthly device and plan charges from their cellular carriers for phones they could not safely use."

A spokesperson for Samsung told me the company does not comment on pending litigation. The case has been filed by the McCuneWright law firm, which is also representing a class of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners suing Apple because their phones' touchscreens have stopped working as a result of an engineering defect.

The total recall and destruction of Galaxy Note 7 phones is unprecedented for a modern smartphone, so there isn't much to look at in order to project whether the case will succeed.

But class action lawsuits for "economic injuries" are common after product recalls. For instance, General Motors was hit with a major class action suit for its "ignition switch" defect that caused the airbags and other safety features to turn off while the car was moving. The class in this lawsuit aren't the people who were injured or killed because of the defect, it's people who are upset that the value of their car decreased because of the bad publicity from the defect. That case is still ongoing.

In the Samsung case, there eventually won't be any Galaxy Note 7 phones to lose value, and so the firm is going after lost cell phone service fees.

"Samsung has agreed to recall and reimburse the cost of the device, but their customers have had to continue to pay on their data and voice plans during the time they had to make their device inoperative until they received their replacement device," Richard McCune, one of the lawyers representing the class, told me. "That is the loss that the case is focused on."

Samsung Complaint by MotherboardTV on Scribd