Late last year, stories began flooding the news about Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 phone, a device that bears more resemblance to a small tablet than a smartphone. Released just last August, by October so many complaints of spontaneously exploding phones had been thrown at the company that they decided to stop all sales of the Galaxy Note7 until they could determine the cause of the fires. In the same press release, Samsung implored all users to immediately turn off their phone and send back for either a refund or for an entirely different model. What many Galaxy Note7 users likely didn’t notice was that buried at the bottom of the phone’s box was a small 16 page booklet containing a paragraph stating that users could not sue Samsung. Instead, they were agreeing to binding arbitration as a means to settle any claim of injury or death arising from use of their product.
Teen Among Many Injured By Galaxy Note7
In Illinois, Michael Taylor, 19, went to sleep with his Samsung Galaxy Note7 on the charger next to his bedside. He woke up hours later to excruciating pain in his leg and to his smartphone on fire. The phone had exploded while charging, causing severe burns to the teen’s leg. When he consulted with an attorney in an attempt to sue Samsung for his injuries, it was discovered that hidden deep in a booklet seldom read by users, Taylor had unknowingly agreed to arbitration. Without knowing it, Taylor had waived his right to a jury trial, agreed to use an arbitrator chosen by Samsung to settle his dispute, and to pay Samsung’s legal fees if the arbitrator determined Samsung was not at fault. While that same part of the booklet also states that consumers can opt out within 30 days of purchase, it is hardly likely that most consumers would read a 16 page booklet of terms and conditions. Users assume that the products they purchase are safe and that they are protected by law should an injury occur from its use. Instead of taking true ownership for the burns suffered by Mr. Taylor, Samsung hid behind the agreement they placed in the product packaging, stating that he agreed to abide by their arbitration process to settle any grievances.