A Deadly Pressure Cooker, A Resilient Child & A Tenacious Attorney

When we buy a product at a store, we assume it has been tested to be safe for consumers. When Caridad Fernandez Reinaldo bought her pressure cooker, she saw in it the promise of lovingly prepared family meals, precious moments spent in the hearth, with the people she most cherished.

Little did she know that the Lifetime Brands pressure cooker was going to become the weapon that almost destroyed her beloved granddaughter Samantha’s life.

First and second degree burns are arguably the most painful injuries one can suffer. When the sufferer is a two-year-old child, the pain becomes unimaginable. The physical pain doubles with the emotional pain, the trauma that will remain with that child for life.

When Caridad Fernandez talked to first responders after the accident, involving her pressure cooker, which burnt 60 percent of her granddaughter’s body, she blamed herself. “I panicked and accidentally poured the boiling soup all over her,” she basically said. And that was that.

The family talked to several lawyers after they started learning about the countless injuries caused by faulty pressure cookers all over America. But no one thought they had a case.

Until they contacted Florida-based attorney John Uustal. Known for fighting, and beating, large, dishonest corporations, Uustal has previously gone after General Motors, Philip Morris, and Ford/Firestone, to name only a few.

Uustal was not satisfied with the police reports, and he decided to look deeper. His team tested the pressure cooker, looked over details about its manufactiring, and discovered it had been equipped with a lid that had been designed for a different size of cooker, so, it didn’t fit right.

In fact, when Uustal and his team tested the pressure cooker, the experiment was so dangerous that, even with protective gear, some of the team members almost got injured.

His firm’s investigators also found evidence that the pressure cooker had malfunctioned; a neighbor even recalled hearing XXX yelling, “It exploded!” Traces of soup they observed in a photograph as far as the kitchen door proved that the liquid had in fact spilled all over as a result of the faulty lid.

With this diligent work, Uustal was able to secure a $27 million settlement.

Little Samantha Gonzalez lost all her fingers, one leg, and suffered horrendous burns on over half her body. Notwithstanding, she is still a lively child, who loves to play, and interact with other children. Before the settlement, there had been charitable efforts to get her the orthopedic leg she needed and some special toys she wanted. Now, thanks to Uustal and his team, her family will be able to afford everything she needs to try to lead as normal a life as possible.

Ruthless corporations often put safety last, adding faulty parts to their products just to save a few dollars, sometimes only a few cents. In some cases, the result is a small child being nearly burnt alive.

When I first saw the picture of that girl, tears came to my eyes. I think it is a picture that everyone in charge of making those deadly money-saving decision at corporations should be forced to see every single day, as a way of saying, “you may be making tons of money, and the company may reward your ability to cut corners, but THIS could, one day, be the ultimate result of what you are doing. So, think well before you act.”

The top executives who make those kinds of decisions never think of the potential victims in terms of specific human beings. The think in numbers. Today, I would like to direct their attention to Samantha’s powerful look. I would like them to look her in the eyes and see if they still can live with themselves. Because this type of dishonest corporations are not impersonal entities, they are run by people, and those people need to be held accountable for the horrors they knowingly bring into the world.

NOTE: The photo of Samantha´s burnt body and amputated limbs has been edited to adhere to Medium.com’s image rules.