LOS ANGELES - After years of FOX 11 investigations into allegations of "exploding" NutriBullets, more alleged victims are coming forward and suing the maker of the blender, claiming they suffered serious burns after the devices blew up during use, and their attorneys claim the company has done nothing to make the product safer since claims of injuries first surfaced years ago.
FOX 11's investigations of the NutriBullet first began in fall 2017, when multiple customers told us they had been badly burned or cut after their blenders exploded during use.
Throughout our reporting, NutriBullet has maintained that customer misuse of the product was likely to blame for any injuries or incidents and that some customer allegations simply defy the laws of physics.
They've also argued that their products have clear warnings throughout their instruction manuals, which state that customers shouldn't blend hot liquids, shouldn't leave the device unattended, and should never exceed the maximum one minute blending time.
However, several new alleged victims are coming forward, saying they followed all the guidelines, and still got hurt.
"My daughter's face almost got blown up, I still have scars from my burns," said Crissundra Hall.
Hall is a new plaintiff suing NutriBullet since our stories aired. She is a Sun Valley trauma nurse currently in Texas helping local hospitals with COVID-19 patients, but she sued NutriBullet this past March after she says her blender exploded during use, causing severe burns to her and her 9-year-old daughter, Danya.
"That morning, we made a shake, I put almost milk in it with my vegan protein powder, some raspberries, blueberries, flax seeds, that's it," Hall said.
But Hall says after roughly 30-45 seconds of use, the NutriBullet malfunctioned and wouldn’t turn off.
"It wasn't releasing like it normally did and that's why I was like I don’t know why it's not stopping, so that's why I pulled the plug and then it exploded all at the same time," said Hall. "The cup part of the container went all the way to the ceiling, cracked my ceiling."
Hall said the scalding contents spewed everywhere, leaving her daughter Danya with burns to her body, including her face and eyes, while Hall suffered second-degree burns to her arm.
"I was panicking, I'm an emergency care nurse so I deal with a lot of trauma but it's so different when it’s your own baby," explained Hall.
Waldermar Morales is also a new plaintiff, he just filed a lawsuit against NutriBullet this month after he claims he suffered second-degree burns to his face when his NutriBullet, a Christmas gift from his mom, exploded during use in May after 45 seconds of use.
"It was just a protein shake, and then I smelled like rubber or plastic burning so I thought it was the motor, so I took it off, and then when I tried to open it to take the protein shake out of the cup it didn't want to open, I thought it was strange but I didn't know, and then when I opened it, it was the explosion," Morales said.
Attorneys Dough Rochen and Boris Treyzon of the law firm Abir, Cohen, Treyzon, Salo, (ACTS), say they now represent nearly 100 alleged victims of the NutriBullet, all with graphic, painful injuries, and they've filed dozens of new lawsuits against NutriBullet since our last report in 2018.
Rochen showed FOX 11 the firm’s evidence locker of NutriBullets and showed us a newer model of the blender since our last reports.
"So now it has this quick user guide which has a bunch more warnings that did not exist in prior models," Rochen said. "Even though they've changed some of the written material, maybe they've changed some of the warnings, from what we can tell, the product itself hasn't changed structurally, there's no mechanical parts that have been altered that make this a safer product."
FOX 11 previously obtained 2017 test videos from NutriBullet's manufacturer in China after the company started facing legal action.
In another, artificial pressure is added to a NutriBullet blending water, and it explodes after two minutes at an approximate pressure of 50 PSI.
"Those tests showed without any doubt that these machines explode," Rochen said.
"It has been our position that NutriBullet should have changed the design of the devices and that has not happened since the cases started," Treyzon said.
Specifically, Treyzon says the blender should have an on/off switch, a timer and a pressure release valve.
But NutriBullet is pushing back, telling FOX 11 in a statement:
"Every day, millions of NutriBullet customers worldwide blend nutritious smoothies from fruits, vegetables and nuts in their NutriBullets. NutriBullets are safe. There is no risk if the NutriBullet is used as directed and operated only as long as necessary to prepare a smoothie, which is generally less than one minute. The claims made by plaintiffs’ attorneys are not possible – NutriBullets cannot defy the laws of physics. As numerous tests and studies have proved, including those performed by an independent university, NutriBullets cannot “hyper-heat” room temperature ingredients in a short period of time. NutriBullet is dedicated to the safety of its consumers and is of course sorry to hear when anyone is hurt. However, the fact remains that NutriBullets obey the laws of physics and that these injuries are caused by people misusing NutriBullet products by not following instructions and warnings that clearly state: 'NEVER BLEND HOT LIQUIDS OR FOOD OR CARBONATED BEVERAGES. NEVER BLEND FOR MORE THAN ONE MINUTE.'"
NutriBullet points to a study they had done at UC Irvine in early 2018 where thermal imaging cameras were used to track NutriBullets blending diced carrots and water for three minutes and five minutes respectively, which is longer than recommended use.
According to the study, while the NutriBullets did heat up to more than one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, they did not explode, and the more powerful NutriBullet model reached a maximum temperature of 109.4 degrees after five minutes of blending, a temperature NutriBullet says is equivalent to a hot bath, and not hot enough to cause serious burns as claimed by customers.
In the letter, the CPSC tells NutriBullet that based on the information the company provided, "the staff does not believe the problem identified necessitates further action by the commission."
"This is the first time we’ve seen this document," Rochen said. "What's striking about this communication is it provides clearance to them that they don't need to do any further investigation, however, CPSC has instructed NutriBullet and it's related entities that it has an ongoing obligation to report complaints, incidents, and injuries that have occurred in connection with the use of their product."
Rochen says the CPSC hasn't contacted any of their clients since 2018, which he says calls into question how thorough their investigation was.
When FOX 11 reached out to the CPSC, they told us they had no comment.