[THE INVESTOR] While tech giant Samsung Electronics has been desperately trying to move on from the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and start anew, it is not the case for some Note 7 users.
A group of five South Korean Note 7 users said on Feb. 7 that they would keep up their court battle against the smartphone maker, which they said accused them of making false claims about the troubled smartphone.
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“The situation is favorable for the plaintiffs as it turns out that the Note 7 fires and explosions were caused by faulty batteries,” said an official from Harvest Law Office, a Seoul-based law firm representing the consumers in the litigation, “There is no plan for a settlement at the moment.”
The five consumers engaging in the lawsuit argued that staffers from Samsung’s customer services centers called them “frauds,” accusing them of seeking monetary compensation by making false claims, the law firm official explained.
“The consumers decided to take legal action as Samsung had tried to pass the buck to consumers for the fire and explosion cases of the recalled devices, refusing to offer a sincere personal apology,” she added.
Upon a series of fire and explosion cases of the fire-prone phones in August last year, the smartphone firm initiated the first recall on Sept. 2.
The replacement Note 7 smartphones fitted with new batteries, however, burst into flames again.
When news reports on the problems of the recalled Note 7s first surfaced in October, Samsung announced the claims were groundless on the basis of initial probes led by laboratories Korea Testing Laboratory and SGS. The probe results had pointed to the possibility that an external pressure on the incendiary phones owned by the users caused fires or explosions.
Samsung and the two labs were later criticized for announcing a half-baked report after a hasty investigation.
The five consumers filed separate complaints against the tech firm for compensation at the Seoul Central District Court, claiming the tech firm harmed their reputation by calling them frauds.
The first trial is forecast to be held in the first half this year.
In a bid to prevent large businesses from misleadingly stigmatizing consumers as a fraudster, officials from the office of lawmaker Woo Won-shik will soon visit the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, a state-run product safety standards organization, to discuss measures to stop such business practices.
Samsung is also facing class action lawsuits by different groups of consumers at home and abroad, who are demanding compensation for damages.
After months-long probes led by Samsung and other labs, the Korean tech firm concluded that defective batteries caused the overheating and explosion of the Note 7.
Announcing the probe results at a press conference on Jan. 23, Samsung’s smartphone business chief Koh Dong-jin vowed to beef up the firm’s quality control system for smartphones as well as batteries.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)