SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Korea Bizwire) – Although Samsung Electronics was quick to let go of its Galaxy Note 7, many of its customers weren’t, and the electronics giant is not willing to compromise in lawsuits over its faulty phablet.
According to sources, Samsung has retained the services of Lee & Ko, a well respected local law firm, and submitted to the court on November 30 an eight-page written response asserting that it won’t offer additional compensation to Galaxy Note 7 owners who took advantage of the company’s official recall program.
The move comes after 2,400 Note 7 owners stepped forward demanding 500,000 won in compensation, with each citing that they were forced to visit stores several times – to purchase the phone in the first place, check their battery after reports of phones catching fire, get a replacement Galaxy Note 7, and finally swap for a different device – resulting in a significant loss of both time and money, in addition to psychological distress – the misgivings from using a potentially dangerous product, and a loss of confidence.
Samsung’s official stance is that Note 7 consumers have received adequate compensation and benefits, and that their alleged damages are tolerable.
“Even if their damages deserve additional compensation on legal grounds, we see them as clearly mended given our recall measures that included refunds and replacements, on top of additional benefits provided,” the company said.
Samsung did provide up to 100,000 won in mobile vouchers or subsidies for telecommunications fees, and offered a 50 percent exemption on outstanding installments if Note 7 users switched over to the Galaxy S7 series and purchased the S8 series or the Note 8 in 2017.
The company also emphasized that it absorbed close to 10 trillion won ($8.5 billion) in losses for its complete recall with an eye on consumer safety, despite the defects not being apparent in all phones.
“If the court rules in favor of the customers, it will serve as a precedent that would make future voluntary, active, and preventive recalls impossible,” it added.
The date for the first trial has yet to be set, but given that the company made it clear that it won’t concede, and with legal representatives of the Note 7 customers, Harvest Law Office, gathering more Note 7 users to join the suit, the legal battle is likely to persist for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, Harvest Law is also representing plaintiffs in a separate suit filed by five customers who actually experienced their phablets catching fire, with the users demanding a total of 42.82 million won in compensation.
A 36-year-old man identified only as Choi, who is among the plaintiffs, was driving his car on October 12 with another individual, Kim, when a Note 7 in the passenger’s pocket caught fire. Choi claimed that Kim suffered second-degree burns, while Choi himself suffered from respiratory complications and post-traumatic stress disorder.
On the other hand, Lee, 34, was the first local consumer to report that a replacement version of the Galaxy Note 7 caught fire, and was also identified as a plaintiff in the suit along with two of his family members who were at the scene.
Although the product’s spontaneous combustion did not result in physical damages, he claimed that “Samsung claimed the incident was the result of external shock, and shifted the responsibility to the customer, citing the report as a scam return by a dishonest consumer.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)