Samsung fails in its bid to force arbitration in phone explosion action

By John Breslin | May 29, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Samsung has failed in its bid to force into arbitration a plaintiff who claims his smartphone exploded in his pocket, causing serious injuries.

SACRAMENTO – Samsung has failed in its bid to force into arbitration a plaintiff who claims his smartphone exploded in his pocket, causing serious injuries.

U.S. District for the Eastern District of California Judge Anthony W. Ishii denied Samsung Electronics America Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. LTD's motion to compel the plaintiff into arbitration, entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff and closed the case May 14.

The companies, which acknowledged problems with the S7 Edge last summer and withdrew the product from the market, had asked the federal court to compel Daniel Ramirez into arbitration, claiming a provision in a 23-page safety and product booklet allows it do so.

"All disputes with Samsung arising in any way from this limited warranty or the sale, condition or performance of the products shall be resolved exclusively through final and binding arbitration," the booklet stated, according to the order.

But the U.S. District for the Eastern District of California ruled that Samsung had no case to force mandatory arbitration, not least because previous court law has found that because the cover stated it was a safety and product booklet, and made no reference to other terms and conditions.

"'Nor would a reasonable person understand that receiving the seller’s warranty and failing to opt out of an arbitration provision contained within the warranty constituted assent to a provision requiring arbitration of all claims against the seller,'" the court order stated.

The court also denied a motion by Ramirez asking for a stay in proceedings at federal level because he has a similar action filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

His complaint in Superior Court states that his S7 Edge was in his front right pants pocket.

“Shortly thereafter, Ramirez heard a whistling and screeching sound and noticed his pocket vibrating and moving around, as well as thick smoke ascending from his front right pocket," the complaint stated.

As he tried to grab the phone, his fingers were burned, Ramirez further claimed.

"Suddenly and without warning, the S7 Edge’s battery exploded, causing the S7 Edge cellphone to catch fire in Ramirez’s pants. The S7 Edge then burned directly through Ramirez’s boxer briefs and pants and engulfed his right leg in flames,” the complaint states.

He claims to have suffered significant burns.

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Samsung Electronics America U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

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