Samsung Fights MDL Consolidation in Exploding Phone Suits

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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The question of whether a multidistrict litigation will be formed for the Samsung exploding phone batteries still remains unanswered as the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) deliberates. Samsung Electronics America Inc., as well New York named plaintiff Claire Gilligan, filed motions to the JPML against formal consolidation in California. For its part, Samsung has argued that at present there are only four proposed class-action suits pending in both New York and California and that such a small number is far too few for the JPML to consolidate.

Samsung further argues that no cases should be put through the court system in general; rather, the defendant claims that customers purchasing Samsung phones agree to resolve disputes through arbitration when they sign their initial purchase agreement. However, Samsung does acknowledge that if a MDL is in fact formed it should be venued in the Southern District of New York where the company is incorporated. The desire to have any potential Samsung MDL venued in New York is also favored by New York plaintiff, Claire Gilligan.

Plaintiffs in the suits claim that defendant Samsung sold consumers defectively designed cell phones in which the batteries are prone to over heating, many of which have burst into flames. Plaintiffs further argue that the electronics company has chosen to ignore the problem in all models other than the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which the company recalled in August 2016. Included in plaintiffs’ complaints are several Samsung products including the S6, S6 Edge +, S6 Active, S7, S7 Edge, S7 Active and Note 5. The cases began to be filed shortly before the end of 2016. Martin v. Samsung was filed in California court in November 2016. Pirverdian v. Samsung was also filed in California in December 2016. Gilligan v. Samsung was filed in the Southern District of New York also in December 2016 and finally Angiuano v. Samsung was filed in California in January 2017.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is Case No.: 2771

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