A South Korean law firm said Tuesday that it expected thousands more people to join a class action lawsuit seeking compensation from Samsung over its combusting Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.
Seoul-based Harvest Law filed the initial suit on Monday on behalf of 527 Note 7 buyers — demanding 500,000 won (US$440) per plaintiff for time and effort lost during a chaotic recall process that turned into a PR nightmare for the world's largest smartphone maker.
Although the sums involved — even when accumulated — are tiny for a giant like Samsung, the lawsuit illustrates the dent the Note 7 fiasco has made in the prestige of a company used to be being treated as corporate royalty in South Korea.
Its new-found vulnerability was further underlined this week by the decision of a South Korean investment advisory firm to recommended shareholders vote against the nomination to the Samsung board of vice chairman J.Y. Lee — the family-run conglomerate's heir apparent.
Following multiple reports of phones catching fire, Samsung announced a global recall of 2.5 million Note 7s last month.
After the replacement devices it offered also started burning up, the company decided to scrap the model entirely.
Harvest Law attorney Peter Koh said growing consumer anger had driven the legal action.
"Up until now, we had about 100 people signing up a day — and more than 300 users joined yesterday alone," Koh said, adding that he expected to add around 3,000 plaintiffs to the lawsuit in a second filing.
A similar class-action lawsuit has been filed by users in the United States.
Koh said Note 7 buyers were "clearly" affected by the month-long recall chaos, forced to make multiple store visits and rent or buy other devices after international airlines banned the smartphone from their flights.
Samsung offered Note 7 owners a full refund or an exchange for a different Samsung phone as well as a 30,000 won (US$26) gift card.
On Monday, it said anyone choosing the exchange option would also receive a 50 percent discount on the new Note 8 or S8 phones expected to be launched next year.
'Galaxy S7 Edge catches fire'
In New York, a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge owner has claimed that the device which he received as a replacement for the Note 7 exploded while charging.
According to the PhoneArena website, the person went to a popular US wireless carrier's store with a damaged Samsung Galaxy S7 edge — the highest-selling device from the South Korean tech giant.
The customer claimed he received the unit two weeks ago after turning in his replacement Note 7 smartphone (version 2 with the "safe" battery).
“According to the owner, it was charging overnight using the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) charger,” the report added.
Last month, a construction worker in Ohio sued Samsung after his Galaxy S7 edge exploded.
“The victim suffered second and third degree burns and had to go through painful skin grafts,” PhoneArena reported.
Three US customers from different states — Nevada, Pennsylvania and California — have already complained about the fire-prone Note 7 devices and may go for a class-action lawsuit against Samsung.
The suit filed in the US District Court in Newark, New Jersey, accuses Samsung Electronics America of fraud and breach of warranty and good faith, NBC News reported.
In a setback to Samsung Electronics on Monday, 527 owners of Galaxy Note 7 smartphone in South Korea filed a class-action lawsuit against the company for inconvenience experienced after the discontinuation of the device.
According to the Harvest Law Office here, the plaintiffs filed the case with the Seoul Central District Court, seeking 500,000 won (US$440) in compensation each, Yonhap news agency reported.
Source: Gulf News