The big picture: In the history of epic tech fails, few are as bad as Samsung’s exploding Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. Fires caused by defective batteries saw the handsets recalled twice in 2016, though the company has since put the incident behind it with new, non-explosive flagships. But a Detroit woman is blaming one of the Korean firm’s devices for starting a fire that destroyed her car last month.
ABC affiliate WXYZ reports that the woman was traveling in her vehicle on May 21 with a Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S8 in a cupholder. She claims to have seen a spark out of the corner of her eye coming from one of the two handsets—it’s unclear which one—and it caught fire.
The woman pulled her Nissan Maxima to the side of the road and got out, at which point flames engulfed the vehicle. “It happened quickly. It just went up in flames. People were telling me to get away from the car. What if I was on the highway stuck in traffic and couldn’t get out?” she says.
WXYZ writes that it verified the woman’s claims with the fire department. Her attorney, Gerald Thurswell, says she now suffers emotional scars and has trouble sleeping.
"We’ve contacted Samsung. They’ve been very responsible and sent a crew to examine the car and portions of the phone. Once it’s determined which of the phones [caught fire] and that one is recalled, we’ll probably save lives."
Samsung has had battery issues with handsets other than the Note 7 in the past. Back in August 2016, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall on batteries used in the Galaxy Note 4 due to their potential to “overheat, posing burn and fire hazards.” At the time, there had only been one overheating incident, which resulted in no injuries or property damage.
In a statement to WXYZ, Samsung said: "We stand behind the quality and safety of the millions of Samsung phones in the US. We are eager to conduct a full investigation of this matter and until we are able to examine all of the evidence, it is impossible to determine the true cause of any incident."
No lawsuit has been filed against Samsung over the incident at this time. But that could soon change.