Note7 users in South Korea and US sue Samsung

SEOUL • Samsung Electronics is facing class-action suits from owners of its now discontinued Galaxy Note7 smartphone in South Korea and the United States.

Around 60 people in South Korea are preparing to file a class action suit against the company and the number is expected to rise, according to Seoul-based Harvest Law Office representing the plaintiffs.

"We will gather more plaintiffs by Friday and submit a petition to the Seoul Central District Court on Oct 24 to claim 300,000 won in damages per individual," Mr Koh Young Il, a lawyer with Harvest Law Office, told The Korea Herald. That amount is equivalent to S$370.

The firm, which consists of three lawyers, has set up an Internet community on the Daum Communications portal site to get more clients.

Each client needs to pay 10,000 won to join the suit, reported South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo.

A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY

Galaxy Note7 users had to visit the phone store four times - purchasing the device, having the battery checked, replacing old models with new models and again replacing the new model with a different smartphone.

THE COMPLAINT

"Galaxy Note7 users had to visit the phone store four times - purchasing the device, having the battery checked, replacing old models with new models and again replacing the new model with a different smartphone," said the complaint.

It gave details of the amount of time and transportation expenses owners had to incur during the recall process and the psychological distress they experienced from owning a device that could explode, reported JoongAng Ilbo.

The complaint further noted that Samsung was overly hasty in blaming the battery as the cause of the meltdowns or explosions.

"(Samsung) said it carried out a recall after prioritising the safety of customers. But it gave out devices that merely had their battery replaced without going through a more prudent procedure," it said.

In the US, another big market for the Galaxy Note7, three Note7 users - one each from Nevada, Pennsylvania and California - filed a class action suit against Samsung's US unit in a federal court in Newark, New Jersey.

They claimed that following Samsung's advice, consumers discontinued using their Note7s only to find out that Samsung did not have replacement smartphones available. The complaint, filed on Oct 16, states that the consumers continued to incur monthly device and plan charges for phones they could not use.

The world's top smartphone maker announced the recall of 2.5 million Note7s early last month following numerous reports of the phones catching fire in what could be one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history. It permanently ended sales of the smartphone last week.

Samsung did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit, according to South Korean media.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Note7 users in South Korea and US sue Samsung'. Print Edition | Subscribe