Samsung recalled about 2.8 million top-loading washers in late 2016, and now the manufacturer and three major retailers that sold these washers have agreed to a preliminary settlement of a class-action lawsuit, according to Consumer Reports.
The recall involved high-efficiency top-loaders made between March 2011 and October 2016 and sold in the U.S. You can find a full list of models on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's November 2016 recall notice.
According to the CPSC, the top of the washer can detach from the body of the machine while in use, posing a risk of injury; nine related injuries were reported.
CR reported on the safety issue of these 'exploding' washers in September of that year, a month before the recall was announced. In addition, News4Jax interviewed a Westside family in 2016 after they said their washing machine exploded, causing their house to shake and leaving behind hundreds of dollars in damage.
The class-action lawsuit alleged that certain Samsung top-loading washers have design and manufacturing defects that may cause machine parts (the tops of the washers and drain pumps) "to detach, break apart, or explode during the spin cycle," and that the voluntary recall didn't provide adequate relief to consumers.
A Consumer Reports review of complaints on saferproducts.gov from November 2016 through August 2017 show a number of consumers voiced concern about the quality of the repair they received and frustration with reaching Samsung to receive their remedy.
In the preliminary settlement agreement, Samsung denies all allegations, including that the washers are defective. As is the case with all settlements, the court doesn't decide if the allegations are true or false.
"This settlement only applies to certain washing machines produced until 2016, that have long been off the market," says a Samsung spokesperson. "The company chose to settle to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation."
Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe's were also named as defendants in this lawsuit, which alleged that these retailers continued to sell the defective washers. (The lawsuit also alleged that Samsung had known since at least 2013 that these washers "violently shake apart," causing personal injuries and property damage.) All three retailers deny all allegations in the suit.
"The parties thought that settling this was the most expeditious thing to do, rather than continuing to incur the costs and disruptions of litigation and taking the time of the court system," Margaret Smith, a spokesperson for Home Depot, told CR.
Best Buy and Lowe's did not respond to CR's request for comment.
Sears was named in the lawsuit, too, but had been dismissed due to its bankruptcy filing last October.
"All civil actions are automatically stayed against a company in bankruptcy," explains William B. Federman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs and founder of Federman & Sherwood in Oklahoma City. "Sears was therefore dismissed in order to not delay this proceeding."
Here's What You Need To Know
Consumers in the U.S. and its territories who bought one of these washers new for use in their home. The washers were made between March 2011 and October 2016. To find out if your washer is included in the settlement, jot down the model number and 15-digit serial number. You'll find on them on the back of the control panel or under the lid. Also check the back of the washer. Then enter this info on the settlement site.
Will I be notified if I qualify?
Notices are being mailed to settlement class members who were identified from the recall as having one of these washers, as well as any additional addresses provided by Samsung and the retailers (if you sent in a warranty registration card, for example).
How do I file a claim?
Go to the settlement site. If you do not receive a notice, use the "I do not have a Login ID and I want to file online" option. Or download and print the form from the Case Documents page and mail it in.
What are the compensation options?
It varies, depending on your washer and certain conditions, and you may qualify for more than one benefit. There are five options, including a rebate, a repair within 14 days of request, and compensation for the top detaching or the drain pump failing. You'll need to file a separate claim and documentation for each benefit you're seeking.
The enhanced minimum recall rebate, for example, means that if you received a rebate as a result of the voluntary recall, but that amount is less than 15.5 percent of the estimated purchase price of the top-load washer, you could receive the difference in value.
The details are spelled out on the settlement site.
What about relief for drain-pump failures?
The lawsuit alleged that for some of the recalled top-loaders, the drain pump can break or detach. These machines were made from March 2012 through December 9, 2012. If your washer had this problem, you may receive a repair or be reimbursed for up to $150 of the repair costs you already incurred, and receive up to $400 for certain expenses related to the drain pump failing, such as up to $50 for clean-up costs and money you spent at the laundromat. The settlement site lists all the details.
Note: If your drain pump fails on or after March 9, 2019, but before March 9, 2022, call Samsung at 800-726-7864 to make a claim.
I got rid of my washer. Can I receive anything for it?
Yes, file for the enhanced minimum recall rebate on the settlement site.
What are the deadlines?
The deadline for filing a claim is August 6, 2019. You can object or exclude yourself, which allows you to be part of another lawsuit, by June 7, 2019.
When do I receive the money?
After the court approves the settlement and rules on any appeals. The Final Fairness Hearing is August 22 at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.
For more information, visit settlement site.
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