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Consumers file another suit against Coway over defective water purifiers

[THE INVESTOR] More than 1,000 consumers in South Korea are taking legal action against local water purifier-maker Coway over its cover-up of defective ice water purifiers containing nickel. 

A group of 1,126 Coway users will file a damage suit on Aug. 19, demanding of 2.5 million won (US$2,240) each -- including 1.5 million won for a medical checkup and 1 million won in compensation for emotional distress. The amount totals 28 billion won. 
Nickel, which came off from an internal component, had been found inside the ice storage bin of the three ice purifier models sold by Coway. The company recalled all three affected models -- CHPI-380N (CPI-380N), CHPCI-430N and CPSI-370N -- in July after growing public outrage. The value of the recalled purifiers is estimated to be around 53.8 billion won, accounting for 2.33 percent of the company’s revenue last year. 

Consumers claim Coway had been aware of the defect from a year ago but tried to cover it up for concern over its impact on share prices. 

Earlier in July, another group of 298 consumers filed a lawsuit against Coway. 

Nickel is a common substance used to coat household products. The US Environment Protection Agency limits daily intake of nickel to less than 0.5 milligrams. The amount discovered in Coway’s products, according to the company, was about one-tenth of the limit. However, consumers claim the intake of even a small amount of nickel for an extended period is harmful to humans.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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