Galaxy Note7 owners take Samsung to court

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Galaxy Note7 owners take Samsung to court

Samsung Electronics faces class-action suits from owners of its exploding Galaxy Note7 in Korea and the United States.

Harvest Law Office, based in central Seoul, said Wednesday it has brought together nearly 50 frustrated users of the now discontinued phablet to file a complaint with the Seoul Central District Court next Monday seeking damages of 300,000 won ($267) each.

“Galaxy Note7 users had to visit the phone store four times - purchasing the device, having the battery checked, replacing old models with a new models and again replacing the new model with a different smartphone,” said the complaint.

The compensation details the amount of time and transportation expenses owners had to put into the process and the stress from owning a device that could explode. The complaint further noted that Samsung was overly hasty in blaming the battery as the cause of the meltdowns or explosions.

“[Samsung] said it carried out a recall after prioritizing the safety of customers. But it gave out devices that merely had their battery replaced without going through a more prudent procedure,” it said.

When Samsung ended production and sales of the problematic phone on Oct. 11, it said it would compensate owners with mobile shopping vouchers worth 30,000 won. People who replaced the Note7 with another Samsung smartphone model were given 70,000 won in discounts on their phone bills the following month.

Those compensations might harm the chances of the class-action suit succeeding, said some legal analysts.

“Even if it’s hard to gauge the financial damage suffered by customers, the emotional damage the Note7 scandal has caused is clear,” said Ko Young-eel, head of Harvest Law Office, who claims to be optimistic about winning the suit.

The firm, which consists of three lawyers, will continue recruiting clients by setting up an Internet community on the Daum Communications portal site through Friday before filing the suit on Oct. 24. Each client needs to pay 10,000 won, and the number of plaintiffs is expected to grow.

In the United States, three people who bought the phones sued Samsung’s U.S. unit. In the first consumer class-action suit to be filed over the troubled device, the Note7 owners seek unspecified damages and an order requiring the company to repair, recall and/or replace the phones, and extend applicable warranties.

Samsung told customers they would have to wait days or weeks for a replacement phone. In the meantime, they’re charged monthly fees by carriers for phones they can’t use, according to the complaint, filed Oct. 16 against Ridgefield Park, New Jersey-based Samsung Electronics North America.

“These phones people were being advised not to use - and were not using - all of them are part of data and voice plans,” Richard McCune, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said. “This is to recover the cost of the voice and data plan during the time that you couldn’t use your phone.”

Regulators have banned the model from carry-on and checked baggage on all U.S. flights and last week said passengers who try to carry Note7 phones onto planes will have them confiscated and may face fines.

Samsung didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.

BY SEO JI-EUN, BLOOMBERG [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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