Lawsuit: Instant Pot Was a 'Ticking Time Bomb'

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 01, 2019 3:02 PM

"I thought Instant Pot was the greatest invention," Mary Cooper told Denver's Fox 31. "I thought it was going to help my soup cook faster. I thought that was fantastic. Anything that makes dinner faster and easier is great for a young mom."

That was until her Instant Pot exploded after cooking some soup, scalding her 9-year-old daughter Caroline and leaving her with third-degree burns on about 16 percent of her body. The Coopers are now suing Instant Pot, claiming a design defect that can lead to serious burns and called the makes their appliance a "ticking time bomb."

"Not Adequately Tested"

"The Instant Pot was designed with the specification that lid cannot be opened while contents of the pot were under pressure," the Coopers' lawsuit claims. But that feature "was not adequately tested in design and development of the product to ensure that it was effective 100% of the time under the conditions of reasonably expected use." This made the device "unreasonably dangerous," and could cause "scalding hot contents to erupt from the pot when the lid was opened," according to the suit.

Cooper contends she was cooking with her daughter, after carefully reading all the instructions and several trial runs. "I had made the exact same soup before, cooking with the kids. Everybody is by the island around and Caroline wanted to come help me. The soup is done. It beeps it's 'done.' We manually vent it and steam comes out telling you that it is un-pressurizing," Cooper said. "The valve float drops, and we go to open it and put the kale in. We were just going to add kale. And it exploded. Completely exploded."

Caroline was rushed to the hospital to treat burns resulting from a hot burst of steam and scalding soup. "It was really scary," she said of the 2017 incident, "and I have anxiety still today about it and I was too scared to be around hot things."

"Unreasonably Dangerous" and a "Reasonable Alternative Design"

Injury lawsuits based on design defects generally require plaintiffs to prove that the risk involved in the using a particular product could have been reduced or avoided by the adoption of a "reasonable alternative design." And the alternative design would be reasonable if it is:

  1. Feasible: Meaning the manufacturer had the ability to produce it;
  2. Economically feasible: Meaning it would not cost too much to make the product with the modification; and
  3. Not in opposition to the product's intended purpose: Meaning the product would still perform the function for which it was created.

Product liability lawsuits are complicated, and proving these elements in court can require extensive investigations and the proper legal arguments. If you've been injured by a malfunctioning product, contact an experienced products liability lawyer for help.

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