In dozens of consumer reports and legal complaints, home cooks across the country describe the dangers of pressure cookers. Numerous consumers have been left with severe burns after their pressure cooker suddenly exploded. Now, the safety of Maxi-Matic pressure cookers is being called into question – with reports linking the company’s appliances to several harmful explosions.
Elite Bistro Pressure Cooker Risks
Maxi-Matic is a small appliance manufacturer based in City of Industry, California. The company’s Elite Platinum and Bistro Pressure Cookers are available through the Home Shopping Network (HSN), as well as major retailers like Amazon and Wayfair.
Despite their popularity, pressure cookers in the Elite product line have been linked to a number of serious incidents, including outright explosions and injuries. In fact, a couple from California filed a financial claim against Maxi-Matic in 2015, accusing the company of concealing a product defect from the public.
Maxi-Matic is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a non-profit that ranks businesses from A to F based on their ethical behavior. And while Maxi-Matic’s rating was recently (and inexplicably) changed to an A, the company had an F rating as of September 12, 2016:
Out of 26 consumer complaints recently featured in the BBB database, only 2 had ended in a satisfactory conclusion. In their complaints, consumers describe a variety of apparently defective products sold by Maxi-Matic – with the company’s pressure cookers as a dominant source of frustration. Here are just a few of the comments submitted to the Better Business Bureau:
- ELITE Platinum 8-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker – “After three and a half uses, the product ceased working.”
- “Pressure cooker stopped heating after about 6 weeks.”
- “Bought Elite Bistro at HSN. Used 3 times and will not power on.”
- “My pressure cooker is less than 2 months old and has been repaired once and now broke again.”
Beyond suspected faulty home goods and unusable appliances, most consumers complain of poor communication. In many cases, Maxi-Matic has failed to reply to consumer complaints entirely.
Reported Maxi-Matic Pressure Cooker Incidents
More troubling reports have been submitted to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an agency of the federal government.
“My House Was Full Of Black Smoke”
In one report, a 49-year-old woman describes the day her newly-purchased Maxi-Matic ELITE pressure cooker caught on fire:
“I turned on my ELITE Platinum Pressure Cooker and 5 minutes later it caught on fire[,] burning it and my stove that it was sitting on. The fire department responded. My house was full of black smoke from the melting plastic. After it was put out[,] we determined that the thermostat inside the bottom of the unit shorted out and caught fire. We’ve made numerous attempts to contact the manufacturer (Maxi-Matic) located in California. We’ve sent pictures of their faulty unit, my burned stove, and all the black smoke damage. This was the 4th time I had used this unit. It was purchased in December 2015.”
Thankfully, the woman says that no members of her household sustained injury in the fire. Significant property damage, however, is described. According to the complaint, Maxi-Matic has not responded to the consumer.
“I Leaned Over The Cooker […] And It Exploded In My Face”
In a second report, a 61-year-old woman says that she was severely burned after a Maxi-Matic pressure cooker blew up in her face:
“I purchased an Elite 8 Quart Pressure Cooker in May 2014. On June 12, 2014, I was cooking white chili in my pressure cooker. I had cooked the chicken and onions until tender. I expelled the pressure in the cooker. After it was safe to open the cooker, I added a few additional ingredients which didn’t take as much time to cook as the chicken. I replaced the lid on the cooker and started the pressure cooker again. It began to increase in pressure but didn’t exactly as it had before. It was not [supposed to build pressure] if everything was not operating correctly. I leaned over the cooker to see if there was a problem and it exploded in my face. I had to go to the emergency room with 2nd degree burns on my scalp, face, shoulder and back.
The woman says that she was hospitalized for her injuries, and is “still in the process of healing.”
“Ten Minutes Later, The Cooker Exploded”
A third report, filed in October 2013, describes similar circumstances:
“[The consumer] noticed steam leaking so he closed the lid. It immediately stopped leaking. Ten minutes later, the cooker exploded. The food contents splattered all over the garage where he was cooking. The lid had [fallen] ten feet away. The consumer says he feels lucky to not have been around at the time of the explosion.”
In a follow-up note, a government employee writes: “the consumer contacted the manufacturer who did not show an interest into looking into this matter.”
Consumers Take Legal Action Against Maxi-Matic
At least one product liability claim has been filed against Maxi-Matic over an exploding pressure cooker.
In September 2015, a couple from California sued Maxi-Matic for injuries allegedly caused by a defective pressure cooker. Gene and Bridget Iovino claim that their Maxi-Matic pressure cooker exploded without warning one March day as Bridget was preparing chicken broth.
Maxi-Matic Pressure Cooker Blew Up, California Couple Says
Iovino had already used the pressure cooker to make chicken broth four times, without incident. But on March 6, 2015, an apparent product failure would leave her with severe second- and third-degree burns, according to court documents.
After adding the ingredients, along with 10 cups of water, Iovino set the timer for an hour. After an hour, the pressure cooker shut off automatically and the woman, tending to other matters, let it sit for another 45 minutes. She then “depressurized the cooker,” the Los Angeles Daily News reports, and added more seasonings to the broth. Once the pressure cooker’s lid had been reattached, Iovino set it for another 25 minutes. Although she “saw more steam than was normal coming from the exhaust value,” everything appeared to be working – until Iovino took two steps away from the cooker and it suddenly exploded. The woman was covered with hot water and steam, according to court documents, suffering second- and third-degree burns.
The Iovino family filed suit against Max-Matic, along with chain retailer Kohl’s, seeking unspecified damages. Their complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on September 30, 2015.
Pursuing Justice For Your Injuries
Were you or a loved one injured when a Maxi-Matic pressure cooker unexpectedly exploded during operation? Our experienced product liability lawyers can help. To schedule a free consultation, call our attorneys today or submit an online contact form. Learn more about your legal options – at no charge and no obligation.
Mr. Banville is a personal injury attorney who has experience in handling auto accidents, work injuries, medical malpractice, dog bites, slip and falls, and representing survivors and victims of sexual abuse. Mr. Banville is affiliated with law firms in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, D.C., and Maryland. Abuse Guardian