Visitor Question

Can We File 2 Actions in Small Claims Court for Injuries from a Defective Refrigerator?

Submitted By: Anonymous (USA)

Our refrigerator is defective. It has been grinding plastic in the ice machine, then freezing this plastic into the ice cubes. We have been ingesting this plastic for the past 3 years. Our daughter recently almost choked on a piece of plastic and that is when we realized that the ice maker was doing this.

We tried to get the manufacturer’s attention and tried to get them to fix the ice maker or give us a new fridge, but…

1. They are impossible to get a hold of (I found testimonials of this lack of customer service online), and

2. Even when you get a hold of them they don’t want to do anything or take any responsibility for their defective product and its liability.

We have decided to file a claim in small claims court. The small claims damages limit is $7,500.

Can my husband and I (we both witnessed our daughter almost choking and were severely disturbed and paranoid because of this) file two actions against the manufacturer individually: one for his emotional distress and the other for mine? Can we claim $7,500 in damages each?

Can we do so even though both our injuries arise out of the same incident?

The total still seems obnoxiously low considering the manufacturer is still selling these refrigerators to others who don’t even know about the problem. Also, who knows what future problems our family may have due to ingesting the plastic almost daily for 3 years. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

From the facts you present you might want to reconsider any lawsuits.

You state you have been ingesting the plastic for the past three (3) years. The first question the court will want answered is why you, knowing the refrigerator was grinding plastic into the ice, would permit yourself and your family to continue drinking the water.

It is absurd to think any family would continue to ingest water knowing there is a chance they might be ingesting plastic. Although I have never seen a judge laugh a case off her court docket, this case might set a precedent!

Let’s talk law. You have a legal duty to “mitigate” your damages. That means you can’t adhere to masochistic behavior, and then claim injuries. It just doesn’t work that way.

To win a claim in any court you must prove “damages”. Damages do not consist of anger, or indignation or your “paranoia”. In all my years in the law I have never seen a case won as a result of a plaintiff’s paranoia. It takes much more than that.

You have to have medical bills, lost wages, or out of pocket expenses, and they all must be directly linked to the injury.

You don’t have any proof of injury. From the facts you present you claim your daughter almost choked on plastic. As the facts are presented that would appear to be your fault, not the company’s.

Forget about additional amounts of money for emotional distress or pain and suffering. You are not going to get it. Your only legitimate claim in small claims court might be for the cost of a new refrigerator… just don’t let the judge know you are still drinking the water!

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: March 8, 2012

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