The maker of the NutriBullet high-speed blender is facing a class action accusing it of failing to warn consumers about the potential for the gadget to explode without warning, causing injuries to consumers, including burns.
In a 64-page court filing dated July 2, Capital Brands is accused of violating federal and state consumer protection laws along with warranty laws. Plaintiff Deveta White of Goose Creek, South Carolina, is seeking both damages and an order preventing Capital Brands from continuing to sell the defective products. She also wants the company to warn existing owners about NutriBullet's potential dangers.
A similar case by North Carolina resident Johanna Suarez was filed in December 2017 and is pending in federal court, according to the PACER system. California attorney Danny Abir toldlast year that he had brought nearly two dozen cases alleging harm from NutriBullets. Unlike the other cases, White's is seeking class-action status and is the only one of its type currently pending against the company. An earlier class action was dismissed.
According to this most recent lawsuit, the blender's canister can pressurize to the point where it separates from the other parts, spewing out its contents onto everything and everyone in range. The explosions can happen without warning even when a consumer is making a cold smoothie because, according to the lawsuit, heat from the blender's fast-moving blades can make the ingredients scalding hot.
Even if the NutriBullet doesn't explode, the suit claims, consumers are still at risk. The buildup of pressure can send the blade assembly flying after the blender's lid is removed following normal use.
"The blenders pose a safety risk to users as well as other people -- including children -- who may be in close proximity to the blender when it explodes," according to the filing, which notes that the company hasn't issued a recall. "Despite its knowledge, NutriBullet fails to warn its consumers that the product may explode posing a serious safety risk to users and any living thing in the proximity of the explosion."
White suffered second-degree burns on her chest and first degree burns on her arms, forcing her to miss work and incur nearly $6,000 in medical expenses to date after her NutriBullet exploded while she was blending water, walnuts, sea moss and cinnamon for under 60 seconds.
The company claims the blender can be safely operated for up to 60 seconds -- sufficient time to make a smoothie -- before a safety feature will cut off power to the gadget. Capital Brands is contesting all claims that the NutriBullet is dangerous when used properly.
The lawsuit claims that the defects have been present in NutriBullets, which are marketed as "nutrition extractors," made since 2007. Consumers have complained about explosions to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) SaferProducts website and to the company directly via Facebook. Though the CPSC reviews all complaints it receives from consumers, they don't necessarily trigger a formal investigation. A CPSC spokeswoman declined to comment.
In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Los Angeles-based Capital Brands defended the quality of the NutriBullet, which come in a range of sizes.
"NutriBullet is dedicated to the safety and satisfaction of its customers," the company said. "Every day, millions of customers safely use the Nutribullet to blend nutritious smoothies from fruits, vegetables, and nuts. NutriBullets are safe and present no issue if used as directed, such as not blending heated foods, or using the blender for longer than necessary to make a smoothie, which is generally less than one minute."
In 2014, Consumer Reports urged its readers not to buy the NutriBullet Pro 900 after noticing blades cracked during a durability test, which NutriBullet disputed. Consumer Reports lifted the warning two years later after NutriBullet made the machine's blades thicker.
NutriBullets are available at major retailers including Walmart (WMT) Amazon (AMZN), Costco (COST) and Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) as well as directly from the company. More than 14 million of the gadgets have been sold worldwide.