DENVER — Georgina Barela was attempting to make beans in a pressure cooker device when the lid flew off, leaving her with second-degree and third-degree burns on her face, arms and chest.
"The way the pressure cooker was sitting ... it hit the cupboard and it ricocheted from there," Barela explained as she described the impact of the lid flying across her kitchen, sending hot liquid everywhere.
"It exploded, and after that was kind of like a blur. Everything happened so fast," Barela said.
Barela said the pain was immediate and unlike anything she has ever experienced before. Her mother rushed to the kitchen to help her and called 911. Once at the hospital, she learned the burns were severe.
The treatment and recovery process lasted more than a year. During that time, doctors used five square feet of cadaver skin grafts to treat the burned areas.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the multi-cooker is still able to pressurize when the lid is not fully locked, which can cause the lid to suddenly become separated from the device. The CPSC found this poses a potential burn risk when hot foods or liquids escape from the device.
Denver-based law firm Burg Simpson filed a lawsuit on behalf of Barela, citing the incident where her Crock-Pot 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cooker exploded in June 2019. The product was later recalled in November 2020.
"They’re basically cooking with a potential time bomb," said attorney Michael Burg.
The recall involves the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cooker, model number SCCPPC600-V1. The recalled model was manufactured between July 1, 2017 and October 1, 2018. Anyone who has one of these devices is asked to stop using it immediately in the pressure cooker mode but can continue using it for slow cooking and sautéing.
"The thing that I found to be outrageous is they know and knew for almost two years that people were being burned by their product and what did they do? They continued to sell it, to make money," Burg said.
The CPSC received 119 reports of lid detachment that resulted in 99 burn injuries. The injuries ranged from first-degree to third-degree burns.
Customer reviews that were posted on several websites where the device was sold warn about this very issue. One woman wrote a review on Amazon in July 2018 stating that her multi-cooker exploded: "Would not recommend to anyone!!! IT BLEW UP!" Another woman wrote in February 2018 that her daughter suffered second-degree burns as a result of a malfunction.
Burg wonder why a recall was not issued sooner, especially as additional complaints involving started coming in.
"Had they done so, my client would never have purchased it and would have never been burned," Burg said.