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 juice.”

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 lawsuit costs.

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