Are Pressure Cookers Safe?
According to manufacturers, pressure cookers can “prepare slow-cooked meals in a fraction of the time.” But as dozens of consumers have learned, pressure cookers can also explode, leading to severe burn injuries.
Pressure cookers feature a sealed pot that, when heated, turns liquid into steam. As this steam pressure rises, water’s boiling point increases as well, allowing foods to cook more quickly than usual. Elevated pressure also forces moisture inside food, lowering cook times further and tenderizing tough foods efficiently.
But in a series of recent federal lawsuits, home cooks claim that some popular pressure cookers may be harboring devastating product defects.
Power Pressure Cooker XL Lawsuits
Tristar Products, Inc., manufacturer of the “As Seen On TV” Power Pressure Cooker XL, has seen the most legal trouble. Today, multiple injured consumers have filed personal injury lawsuits against Tristar Products, saying the Power Pressure Cooker XL can explode due to an alleged design defect.
Burned Texas Woman Files Suit Over Pressure Cooker
Legal experts believe the first pressure cooker lawsuit was filed on June 12, 2015. In their federal complaint (PDF), a couple from Texas says their Power Pressure Cooker XL blew up the first time they used it.
Like many consumers, lead Plaintiff Ninfa Vasquez says she purchased the Power Pressure Cooker XL after seeing an ad for the product on TV. The cooker is a prominent “As Seen On TV” product, marketed as a “one button, one pot kitchen miracle” by manufacturer Tristar Products.
On August 2, 2014, Mrs. Vasquez says she attempted to prepare pinto beans in her new Power Pressure Cooker XL, “following all instructions enclosed with the cooker.” But two hours later, and long after the pressure cooker had been unplugged, the machine exploded “without warning,” Vasquez claims.
After being showered with searing hot pinto beans, Mrs. Vasquez was rushed to the hospital, where she spent 20 days being treated for severe burns. One year after the incident, Mrs. Vasquez and her husband Jose filed suit against Tristar Products, Inc., claiming the company should be held accountable for selling an allegedly defective product without any warnings. Their lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, is logged as case number 1:15-cv-00108.
Florida Couple Says Pressure Cooker Caused Severe Burns
In a second lawsuit, filed on June 24, 2015, a couple from Sunny Isles Beach, Florida claims their Power Pressure Cooker XL unexpectedly exploded, causing severe burn injuries. In an interview with CBS Local Miami, Lili Bekteva described the accident in detail, saying her husband Serg suffered second-degree burns to his arms, fingers and leg after the pressure cooker blew up as he opened the machine’s lid.
Along with Tristar Products, the couple has named Bed, Bath & Beyond as a Defendant, accusing the home goods chain of selling a defective product without adequate warnings. In their lawsuit, the Florida couple writes that the Power Pressure Cooker system is defective and “unreasonably dangerous because there was a lack of adequate warnings, notices and / or instructions that the product could explode despite being unplugged, properly vented, and opened without force.”
This second pressure cooker lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The couple’s complaint (PDF) has been registered as case number 1:15-cv-22364-UU.
What’s Wrong With The Power Pressure Cooker XL?
Tristar says the Power Pressure Cooker XL is the best pressure cooker available on the market, boasting numerous safety features, including:
- pressure monitor that prevents intolerable steam build-up
- temperature controls to ensure an even heat
- safety pressure release valve and back-up release valve
- features to prevent clogging
- cutoff mechanisms to prevent incredibly high temperatures
Despite these “extensive” safety features, consumers say the Power Pressure Cooker XL can explode – during or after food preparation.
Some home cooks, like Lili Bektava, have suffered severe burns after beginning to remove the pressure cooker’s lid. But in marketing materials, Tristar claims that the pressure cooker is outfitted with a specific safety mechanism that should make this impossible. The Power Pressure Cooker XL is outfitted with a safety check, according to Tristar, which should prevent consumers from opening the lid until the cooker’s pressure has been properly vented. Some observers have linked devastating explosions like these to an allegedly faulty valve, which can clog and lead to unacceptable pressure build-up.
Other reported explosions, which appear to be completely inexplicable, may provide support for this theory. On June 11, 2016, for example, a home cook reported walking into her kitchen, where a pea soup was being prepared in the Power Pressure Cooker XL. No sooner had she entered the room, than the pressure cooker’s lid “exploded,” shooting hot pea soup onto the woman’s body.
Amid Pressure Cooker Recalls, No Word From Tristar
Pressure cookers have been known to explode in the past.
In December of 2015, Breville recalled more than 35,000 of its Fast Slow Cookers, after consumers reported that a defective sealing gasket could allow the machine’s built-up pressure to release unexpectedly. Five owners reported sustaining severe second-degree burns to the hands, arms and stomach, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Earlier that year, manufacturer Double Insight released a similar recall, asking consumers to stop using the company’s Instant Pot Pressure Cooker immediately because the product’s thermometer probe could cause electric shocks.
But Tristar has yet to make a public comment on the pending pressure cooker lawsuits – let alone issue a recall for its Power Pressure Cooker XL.
Injuries Linked To Pressure Cookers
Our experienced product liability attorneys have been monitoring the consumer-reported pressure cooker injuries closely. Between 2011 and today, 35 home cooks have submitted reports of exploding pressure cookers to the government.
Recent reports are dominated by references to Tristar’s Power Pressure Cooker XL. In 12 consumer reports, users describe apparently faulty steam release valves, mechanisms that can allow dangerous levels of pressure to remain inside the cooker without warning.
In an August 9, 2016 report, a 56-year-old woman says that her Power Pressure Cooker XL exploded without warning – after she unsuccessfully attempted to release the cooker’s pressure twice. With the valve unresponsive, she went to open the pressure cooker’s lid, only to have the device suddenly spew hot food all over her body. The consumer reports that she suffered burns and was hospitalized for her injuries. She intends to file a product liability lawsuit against Tristar Products.
In several reports, the pressure cooker’s lid flew off completely during the cooking process, spewing scalding hot liquids directly on consumers. Of these 12 Power Pressure Cooker XL explosions, only one consumer says they were not injured. The vast majority were left with first- and second-degree burns that required emergency medical attention.
Fagor America, Tabletops Unlimited & Max-Matic
Tristar Products, however, is not alone in manufacturing potentially dangerous pressure cookers. Three other pressure cooker manufacturers feature prominently in the injury reports:
- Fagor America
- Tabletops Unlimited
Over five years of reports link the pressure cookers manufactured by Fagor America to serious injuries. In fact, 15 of the 35 consumer reports relate to pressure cookers made by Fagor, the company behind Casa Essentials and Rapid Express cookers. Casa Essentials pressure cookers seem to be particularly dangerous, with home cooks reported ineffective lid locking mechanisms and allegedly faulty pressure valves.
Tabletops Unlimited, a company based in California, manufactures a range of pressure cookers under brand names like Philippe Richard and Denmark Tools for Cooks. Consumers report frequent gasket failures, sending steam pouring out of the product and leading to over-pressurized explosions.
Maxi-Matic is responsible for the wildly-popular Elite line of pressure cookers – products that seem to have a penchant for exploding unexpectedly or erupting in flames.
Can I File A Pressure Cooker Lawsuit?
In America, companies that manufacture consumer products have a legal duty to provide us with safe, defect-free products. And when a product carries a reasonable risk of harm, the manufacturer must warn purchasers of that potential danger clearly. But when these responsibilities aren’t upheld, and people get hurt, consumers have every right to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
If you or a loved one were injured by a defective pressure cooker, our experienced personal injury lawyers want to know about it. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation, money to cover your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
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