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A mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions is prepared in an Instant Pot

On May 12, 2023, an Arkansas mother, on behalf of her minor son, filed a new pressure cooker lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

She claims that the boy was seriously injured when the pressure cooker unexpectedly exploded and spewed its scalding hot contents onto his skin.

Plaintiff and Son Injured When Pressure Cooker Explodes

According to the complaint, both plaintiffs suffered from serious and substantial injuries on June 12, 2020. The mother was cooking with the Tristar Pressure Cooker when she was able to rotate and open the lid while the cooker was still under pressure. This allowed the scalding hot contents to be forcefully ejected from the cooker onto the plaintiffs.

The boy was seriously burned in the incident. The plaintiff blames the manufacturer, stating that its supposed “built-in safety devices” did not work as advertised.

Tristar advertises and sells its pressure cookers as state-of-the-art kitchen science, allowing consumers to cook wholesome, sit-down, family-style meals with just the push of a button. The company produced YouTube videos in which spokespeople stated that “there was no safer way to cook,” but these videos have been taken down.

In one of the videos still available, spokesperson Justin Donnelly mentions that once the pressure cooker is up to pressure, the lid locks on. He adds that he couldn’t open the lid at that point if he wanted to.

Plaintiff Claims All Safety Mechanisms Faulty and Defective

According to the owner’s manual, which accompanies every individual unit sold, the pressure cookers have “built-in safety devices” including the following:

  • Safety lid lock: The lid tabs connect under the base tabs to lock the lid to the base when fully closed.
  • Positive pressure mechanism (float valve): When the pressure reaches a required point, the pressure lifts the float valve, contacting the locking pin.
  • Lid positioning sensor: Indicates when the lid is fully closed.
  • Lid inner tray (guard): Prevents food from entering the upper lid and entering the float valve and pressure release chambers.
  • Anti-blockage guard: Guards the underside of the pressure release valve.
  • Two-step security reset for quick release: The steam release switch needs to be slid once to release the steam and then let go to open the lid. If steam/pressure is coming out of the pressure release valve or the consumer’s hand is still holding the steam release switch open, the lid will not slide to open.

Despite all these safety mechanisms, the plaintiff was able to remove the lid while the unit was still under pressure, even though it looked like all the steam had been released. She claims that Tristar’s pressure cookers are unreasonably dangerous.

Several Other Consumers Report Injuries from Tristar Pressure Cookers

The plaintiff includes in her complaint a sampling of reports of similar pressure cooker incidents sent to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). These reports tell of other Tristar pressure cookers that allegedly exploded in a similar manner.

One report dated February 14, 2018, for instance, describes an individual who was using the Tristar Power Pressure cooker to cook a roast. The cooker exploded and “and she sustained severe burns to her face, shoulders, neck, and breasts. She was rushed to the emergency room and immediately admitted to the hospital.”

The plaintiff brings counts of strict liability, negligence, design defect, and failure to warn, and seeks compensatory damages.

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