California Verdicts

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Pressure cooker’s dangerous design caused burns, plaintiff alleged

Amount:

$4,950,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

California

Venue:

Los Angeles County

Court:

Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles

Injury Type(s):

arm-scar and/or disfigurement, arm;
burns-second degree; chest; other-scar and/or disfigurement; epidermis-keloid; face/nose-scar and/or disfigurement, face

Case Type:

Products Liability – Design Defect, Strict Liability, Household Products

Case Name:

Precious King v. Maxi-Matic U.S.A. Inc.,
No. BC637685

Date:

October 22, 2018

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Precious King (Female, 43 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Moses A. Lebovits;
Daniels, Fine, Israel, Schonbuch & Lebovits, LLP;
Los Angeles,
CA,
for
Precious King ■ Louis L. Gertler;
Gertler Law Firm, LLP;
New Orleans,
LA,
for
Precious King ■ Parham Nikfarjam;
Daniels, Fine, Israel, Schonbuch & Lebovits, LLP;
Los Angeles,
CA,
for
Precious King

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Tracee Short; M.D.; Burn Medicine; Baton Rouge,
LA called by:
Moses A. Lebovits, Louis L. Gertler, Parham Nikfarjam

Defendant(s):

Maxi-Matic USA Inc.

Defense Attorney(s):

Michael B. Buckley;
Buckley Law Group, P.A;
Beverly Hills,
CA,
for
Maxi-Matic USA Inc.

Insurer(s):

Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty

Facts:

On June 26, 2016, plaintiff Precious King, 43, a cashier, was using the Elite Bistro, an 8-quart digital pressure cooker (model number EPC-808P), to prepare a pot roast at her home in New Orleans when she was burned by boiling fluid. King sustained injuries to her face, chest and arms. King sued the importer and distributor of the pressure cooker, Maxi-Matic USA Inc. She alleged that the pressure cooker was defectively designed, making Maxi-Matic strictly liable for the incident. King claimed she believed she fully closed the lid by sliding the lever before turning on the pressure cooker, but after approximately 20 minutes, she heard a strange rattling noise emitting from inside the pot. She claimed the noise prompted her to attend to the pressure cooker, but as she attempted to unplug it to allow the system to de-pressurize, the lid unexpectedly and violently exploded off the machine. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the lid was defectively designed, as the lid rotated the wrong way and the machine pressurized even with the lid not fully closed. Defense counsel disputed King’s claims, but two weeks before trial, Maxi-Matic decided to not contest liability for the purpose of the case. The matter proceeded to a trial on damages.

Injury:

King sustained second-degree burns to 14 percent of her body. Specifically, she sustained burns to her face, chest, arms and breasts. She was taken to University Medical Center New Orleans and then transferred to Baton Rouge General Regional Burn Center the next day. King claimed that she is left with significant scarring and keloids, a type of raised scar that grows much larger than the wound that caused the scar. She alleged that the keloid scars are painful and itchy. King underwent laser therapy one time, but she claimed it made her scarring and keloids worse. She claimed that that since she keloids easily, there is not much she can do, but that she routinely gets injections to help with the keloid pain and itch. She also claimed that she suffers from emotional distress as a result of the incident. King waived her claims for loss of earnings and medical expenses, and only sought recovery of non-economic damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed the amount of damages sought and the extent of King’s alleged emotional distress.

Result:

The jury determined that King’s damages totaled $4.95 million.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Victor E. Chavez

Demand:

$750,000 (C.C.P. § 998)

Offer:

$350,000

Trial Length:

3
 days

Trial Deliberations:

100
 minutes

Jury Vote:

12-0 (past noneconomic harm); 11-1 (future noneconomic harm)

Jury Composition:

5 male/ 7 female

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.