Apple Sued After Laptop Causes Fire

On Thursday in the District of Maryland, Electric Insurance Company and Sheila Ross filed a complaint against Apple Inc. claiming that as a result of an Apple Computer overheating, a fire damaged the plaintiff’s property and condominium. The plaintiffs asserted counts of strict product liability and negligence.

The complaint claimed “a fire erupted at the subject property as a direct result of an overheating event internal to the battery system in the subject computer.” This fire allegedly caused significant damage to plaintiff Ross’s “real and personal property,” and caused other damages, such as clean-up costs which Electric needed to reimburse to Ross. 

According to the complaint, Electric provided insurance to Ross, and the insurance was in effect during the relevant time. The plaintiffs proffered that the fire which occurred on approximately November 24, 2017 at the plaintiff’s condominium was a result of an Apple computer overheating. The complaint said “a claim was made on said insurance policy and, upon payment, Electric became subrogated to certain recovery rights and Interests of Ross for monies paid thereunder.” Moreover, the plaintiffs noted that “Electric’s insurance policy did not cover all of Ross’s losses arising out of the fire.”

The plaintiffs explained that before the event, Apple “designed, manufactured, tested, inspected, assembled, marketed, sold, distributed, programmed, updated, and placed into the stream of commerce the subject computer that was equipped with an electrical system, battery system containing lithium-ion batteries, as well as a software system that was capable of being remotely updated by Defendant.” Ross, who lived in the condominium, purchased and owned the computer before the event. Additionally, the plaintiffs proffered that the subject computer had the original operating system, downloaded authorized updates and was “operated and used … in a foreseeable, normal, ordinary, and intended manner” before November 24, 2017. Also, the plaintiffs claimed that before the event plaintiff Ross’s computer “had not been modified, changed, altered, misused or abused by Ross in any way beyond what was authorized, provided or anticipated” by Apple.

The plaintiffs claimed that Apple intended its computers to be used by the public, including plaintiff Ross, and it allegedly knew “of the specific uses, purposes and requirements for which said product would be utilized, including that Defendant intended to authorize, facilitate and provide necessary future updates for the operating system and software installed on the computer that might affect the operation of the subject computer.” As a result, the plaintiffs claimed that this type of incident should have been foreseen and that Apple should not have sold the subject computer in a “defective and unreasonably dangerous condition,” which allegedly led to the aforementioned fire because of “design defects, manufacturing defects, programming defects, and improper warnings and instructions.” 

Consequently, the plaintiffs contended that the fire was caused by the condition of the computer “at the time it left the hands of Defendant.” The plaintiffs asserted that Ross could not have expected a fire when using the computer. Moreover, the plaintiffs argued that Apple had a reasonable duty of care to consumers, but it breached that duty through the alleged faulty computer.

The plaintiffs asserted two counts against Apple, strict products liability and negligence. The plaintiffs sought declaratory judgment in their favor, an award for damages, and costs and fees. The plaintiffs are represented by Rollins, Smalkin, Richards & Mackie, LLC.