Samsung, one of the world’s largest makers of televisions
and other electronics, has been hit with a class action lawsuit over allegedly
defective remote controls for its smart TVs, centered on claims the remotes can
overheat and cause the AA batteries inside to leak potentially dangerous “battery
On July 25, plaintiff Kim Sherwin, identified in the
complaint only as a resident of Illinois, filed her complaint in Chicago
federal court against Samsung Electronics America Inc., a New Jersey based U.S.
affiliate of the Korean international electronics maker.
Sherwin is represented in the action by attorneys with the
firm of Edelson PC, of Chicago, and attorney Stefan Coleman, of Miami, Fla.
According to the lawsuit, Sherwin purchased a 55-inch
Samsung “Smart TV” in 2012 for more than $1,600. The television purchased included
a special Bluetooth-enabled remote control, which featured a Qwerty keyboard on
one side, purportedly to help users more easily browse the internet through the
Smart TV’s web browser.
Sherwin said she “was drawn to the television’s Qwerty
Remote because its keyboard would her to easily browse the internet on her TV
and other apps.”
However, after only a few days, she said the remote’s
batteries “quickly depleted,” and continued to do so, requiring her to “regularly
replace” the batteries “after low to moderate use … and even after some time
when she did not use the remote at all.”
About a year later, however, Sherwin said batteries she
installed “began to leak battery acid … and the remote stopped working.”
In 2014, “after using remotes that only gave her basic
control” of the TV, Sherwin said she purchased a replacement Qwerty remote for
$144, and over the ensuing months, the same problems recurred, she said.
The lawsuit said Sherwin’s experience was not unique,
however, as many other consumers have reported on online forums and elsewhere problems
with the Qwerty remotes similar to those alleged by Sherman. Some, however,
also indicate the remotes have overheated, “sizzled,” and one even claimed the
battery chamber “exploded.”
According to the lawsuit, the problems were the result of a
design flaw known to Samsung. The lawsuit alleged Samsung should have designed
the Qwerty remotes to include a rechargeable battery, more similar to those in
use on mobile phones. Instead, the lawsuit alleged Samsung opted to power the
device using alkaline batteries knowing the remote would quickly deplete the
batteries, requiring consumers to replace them often at their expense. They
alleged Samsung also should have known the devices would cause the batteries to
overheat, fail and leak.
The lawsuit has asked the court to approve a nationwide
class of additional claimants, including all those who purchased the Qwerty
remote, and special subclasses who purchased the devices in Illinois,
California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey,
New York and Washington.
The lawsuit alleged Samsung violated consumer fraud laws in
each of those states, and was unjustly enriched.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified statutory and punitive damages
under the laws and an injunction against Samsung, plus attorney fees and other