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Insurance company claims Apple's 'dangerous' MagSafe started fire

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 
A newly filed lawsuit claims that Apple's MagSafe charger, attached to a 2007 MacBook Pro, caused a major fire at a Connecticut home.

The lawsuit was filed this month in a U.S. District Court in Connecticut by Great Northern Insurance Company. Great Northern made payments in excess of $75,000 to a client after an accidental fire occurred at their family's home.

According to the lawsuit, the fire marshal of the town of Glastonbury concluded that the blaze, which occurred on May 23, 2008, was caused by the "external system components" of the laptop found in the home.

"Unbeknownst to [the client], in 2007 and 2008, Apple had received numerous complaints posted on its own Apple store website alerting Apple to heating, burning and sparking problems with its MagSafe adapters," the suit reads.

"As a result of the aforementioned fire, [the family] sustained severe and extensive damage to their real and personal property and incurred additional living expenses."

Great Northern's lawsuit attempts to prove that the MagSafe adapter was "in a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition" due to Apple. The complaint argues that Apple "manufactured and sold the MagSafe adapter in a condition that it knew, or should have known, subjected the property of others to foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm."



Great Norther has asserted that because Apple "negligently designed and manufactured" the MagSafe adapter, it should be reimbursed for the fire damage that occurred in 2008.

According to the suit, the MacBook Pro and its MagSafe adapter were purchased in August 2007. It states that the computer and its charging accessory were used as intended, and "without abusing or misusing" them.

The latest lawsuit is in addition to one filed in 2009, when Apple was hit with a class-action complaint regarding fires allegedly started by MagSafe adapters. That complaint, filed on behalf of multiple users, claimed that normal day-to-day use destroyed the cable on the MagSafe adapter, potentially leading to sparks or fire.
post #2 of 82
"What's that? They have 50 billion dollars in cash, you say? Hmmmmmmmm...frivolous lawsuit time!"

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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post #3 of 82
I too had my magsafe in my first gen MacBook Pro burn. I brought it into an Apple Store. At frist glance the "genius" said that it was a heath and safety hazard, and that I would not be able to leave the store with it. She took it in the back then came out 20 min later stating that i was out of warranty. She said her manager said it would be 350 to fix blah blah blah blah. After and email to Steve Jobs explaining my situation, I received a call, received a shipping box and sent it on its way.

So yes these magsafes are def a fire hazard.. I have pics.. and maybe a copy of the email somewhere.

post #4 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"What's that? They have 50 billion dollars in cash, you say? Hmmmmmmmm...frivolous lawsuit time!"

That reimbursement would be peanuts. It is not a class action or patent infringement case.

Apple should have notified every registered user of a recall of the adapters in the first place.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #5 of 82
Actually, the old MagSafe connect is very problematic. The cord gets lose from the connector, and often it burns the plastic at that spot. I had two adapters with this problem (a Macbook Pro and a Macbook).

No, I am not saying Apple is definitely to be blamed for this fire, but I would keep an open mind.
post #6 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

That reimbursement would be peanuts. It is not a class action or patent infringement case.

Apple should have notified every registered user of a recall of the adapters in the first place.

I've had a older models spark a bit.
post #7 of 82
I say it is another Insurance Company trying to worm out of having to pay on their product. I have had a MacBookPro since they first came out and the only problem I have had is having to replace the charger 3 times because the Magsafe connector fails after a year or two. Are the new ones any better?
post #8 of 82
[QUOTE=microtaint;1760884]I too had my magsafe in my first gen MacBook Pro burn. I brought it into an Apple Store. At frist glance the "genius" said that it was a heath and safety hazard, and that I would not be able to leave the store with it. She took it in the back then came out 20 min later stating that i was out of warranty. She said her manager said it would be 350 to fix blah blah blah blah. After and email to Steve Jobs explaining my situation, I received a call, received a shipping box and sent it on its way.

So yes these magsafes are def a fire hazard.. I have pics.. and maybe a copy of the email somewhere.





After this email, I received a call about 1pm from Apple, then about at 1:30 pm I received a call from the Portland OR Store Manger "Just trying to clear things up." LOL Sorry but the nice Apple representative on the phone already helped me.
post #9 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by microtaint View Post

I too had my magsafe in my first gen MacBook Pro burn. I brought it into an Apple Store. At frist glance the "genius" said that it was a heath and safety hazard, and that I would not be able to leave the store with it. She took it in the back then came out 20 min later stating that i was out of warranty. She said her manager said it would be 350 to fix blah blah blah blah. After and email to Steve Jobs explaining my situation, I received a call, received a shipping box and sent it on its way.

So yes these magsafes are def a fire hazard.. I have pics.. and maybe a copy of the email somewhere.

Can you provide a better explanation as to where on the cord the hazard was? Was the insulation damaged with wires poking out, or was there an issue directly with the MagSafe adapter?

I could believe an issue with the cord, but it doesn't sound to me like the MagSafe adapter itself is dangerous.
post #10 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

That reimbursement would be peanuts. It is not a class action or patent infringement case.

Apple should have notified every registered user of a recall of the adapters in the first place.

It's about precedent and facts. Apple isn't going to pay this down. They will fight it to keep from larger fish leveraging such a frivolous action for their much larger false claim.
post #11 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mebbert View Post

Can you provide a better explanation as to where on the cord the hazard was? Was the insulation damaged with wires poking out, or was there an issue directly with the MagSafe adapter?

I could believe an issue with the cord, but it doesn't sound to me like the MagSafe adapter itself is dangerous.

You know how the new adapter's connector is different? It addresses this problem.

The problem is that people pull the cord to disconnect the connector. (Please don't say "you are not supposed to pull the cord", that is what people do for decades) The problem is that the magnet is pretty strong, so after N times, the plastic gets a little lose. Eventually, that creates a kind of shorts which burns through the plastic.

If you are lucky, the adapter simply stops working and you get to buy another one. If you are not lucky, I can see fire potential.

The new design is L-shaped. So to disconnect, you cannot pull the cord (wrong direction). Instead, you pull the connector directly which is hard plastic. This completely fixed the problem.

This is one case that I think Apple should give all previous MB and MBP owners a replacement adapter (based on serial number).
post #12 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mebbert View Post

Can you provide a better explanation as to where on the cord the hazard was? Was the insulation damaged with wires poking out, or was there an issue directly with the MagSafe adapter?

I could believe an issue with the cord, but it doesn't sound to me like the MagSafe adapter itself is dangerous.

It was a combination of the magsafe adapter and the DC/Sound Board. I was told at first that it was my fault because i allowed some lint to come between the magsafe adapter and the dc board. Ya right, I was mr anal with that 3k computer when it came out. Now its a dead hunk of metal on my desk. (Not because of magsafe issue)

It is important to note that my magsafe melted two times prior to this. The first two times the cord itself melted, insulation hanging out and everything. No I did not yank on the cord to unplug my computer. Remember I was mr anal about this machine. This was the third time, and the only time that the computer itself sustained damage. If I did not wake up it could have been way worse. No it was not on the bed/couch/ blanket. This machine was more of a desktop than anything else. Yes the new adapters seem to be working much better, but only time will tell.
post #13 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

It's about precedent and facts. Apple isn't going to pay this down. They will fight it to keep from larger fish leveraging such a frivolous action for their much larger false claim.

Not a legal action. Settle out of court.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #14 of 82
This MagSafe is another example of Apple truly smoking the competition...
post #15 of 82
"...manufacturing and distributing personal computers and related products"

I'd hardly recognize Apple in 2010 from the description.
post #16 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

You know how the new adapter's connector is different? It addresses this problem.

The problem is that people pull the cord to disconnect the connector. (Please don't say "you are not supposed to pull the cord", that is what people do for decades) The problem is that the magnet is pretty strong, so after N times, the plastic gets a little lose. Eventually, that creates a kind of shorts which burns through the plastic.

If you are lucky, the adapter simply stops working and you get to buy another one. If you are not lucky, I can see fire potential.

The new design is L-shaped. So to disconnect, you cannot pull the cord (wrong direction). Instead, you pull the connector directly which is hard plastic. This completely fixed the problem.

This is one case that I think Apple should give all previous MB and MBP owners a replacement adapter (based on serial number).

That makes sense. Thanks!
post #17 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by microtaint View Post

I too had my magsafe in my first gen MacBook Pro burn. I brought it into an Apple Store. At frist glance the "genius" said that it was a heath and safety hazard, and that I would not be able to leave the store with it. She took it in the back then came out 20 min later stating that i was out of warranty. She said her manager said it would be 350 to fix blah blah blah blah. After and email to Steve Jobs explaining my situation, I received a call, received a shipping box and sent it on its way.

So yes these magsafes are def a fire hazard.. I have pics.. and maybe a copy of the email somewhere.

I have had numerous problems with the MagSafe cable myself. For example, the pins on my mid-2009 MacBook Pro cable started to get pushed in which started causing sparking and a burning smell. Eventually, I went to the Apple Store when the cable itself starting blackening and miscoloring and they replaced it free.

Funnily, I am on my third cable now since the second cable eventually had problems, too.
post #18 of 82
Losing your home isn't "frivolous", it's an extremely traumatic experience. I'd definitely like some new magsafe adapters to replace the old ones if they are prone to this. It appears the fire was stopped before the home was ruined but it could've been worse.
post #19 of 82
Must be great to be an insurance company. By their reasoning, they should always be reimbursed for every incident that happens.

Your house burned down because you fell asleep with a lit cigarrette? Let's sue the tobacco companies!!!

An arsonist burned down your house using gasoline and a match? Let's sue the gas refineries and the makers of the matches!

You fell through the floor of your house due to termites eating through the wood? Let's sue Terminix for a shoddy job 15 years ago. Surely they are at fault!

</sarcasm>

I'm not condoning Apple's behavior in this, providing it is can be determined with 100% certainty. But I think the entire story is not being told either. I'm curious what the circumstances were that an electronic component can result in the burning of an entire house. I mean, was the laptop on a bed of highly-combustible material that spread like wildfire? Was this person living as a hoarder, having so many hazards in the house that even the most smallest spark could trigger a complete POOF?? I suspect (IMHO) that the homeowner has some amount of responsibility here and that is conveniently being left out of the filings.

I'm curious to see what info comes to light during the court case.
post #20 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by microtaint View Post

It is important to note that my magsafe melted two times prior to this. The first two times the cord itself melted, insulation hanging out and everything. No I did not yank on the cord to unplug my computer. Remember I was mr anal about this machine. This was the third time, and the only time that the computer itself sustained damage. If I did not wake up it could have been way worse. No it was not on the bed/couch/ blanket. This machine was more of a desktop than anything else. Yes the new adapters seem to be working much better, but only time will tell.

Had the exact same problem: two cords that melted, including one that sizzled and shot sparks, neither of which were abused. Got the same run-around at the Apple Store, bought new ones and kept the old ones as a reminder of Apple's "proprietary" limitations.
post #21 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

You know how the new adapter's connector is different? It addresses this problem.

The problem is that people pull the cord to disconnect the connector. (Please don't say "you are not supposed to pull the cord", that is what people do for decades) The problem is that the magnet is pretty strong, so after N times, the plastic gets a little lose. Eventually, that creates a kind of shorts which burns through the plastic.

No, the problem is that the strain relief was inadequate. It was too thin and too short to adequately protect the cable. The adapter should have never been given a UL label. This isn't the first power adapter that Apple has shipped with this type of problem.

What I find odd is that the adapter can provide enough energy on the low voltage end to start a fire in anything but an explosive atmosphere.
post #22 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

It's about precedent and facts. Apple isn't going to pay this down. They will fight it to keep from larger fish leveraging such a frivolous action for their much larger false claim.

I am not so sure we can so easily say it is frivolous. If your house burned down and your insurance company paid the claim but told you their investigation found the the adapter was at fault, would you assume they were lying? Would you accept a replacement that used the identical adapter?

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply
post #23 of 82
I'm as big an apple guy as the next person and if the fire report says this caused the fire, you pay. It's as simple as that and no reason to drag this out. While it does set the tone of future cases, if the fire marshal says that was the cause of the fire, you pay. It's nothing out of apple's pocket and it's the right thing to do. Why drag it out and spend 2x as much on lawyers when in the end you might lose anyway. Then again, I'm not a major corporation looking to protect myself so my opinion means shit.
post #24 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

What I find odd is that the adapter can provide enough energy on the low voltage end to start a fire in anything but an explosive atmosphere.

In a perfect world there would be no combustibles in direct contact with the cable, but you know how papers on a desk sometimes pile up. If it is hot enough to melt the plastic insulation, I would think it is hot enough to set paper on fire.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #25 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A newly filed lawsuit claims that Apple's MagSafe charger, attached to a 2007 MacBook Pro, caused a major fire at a Connecticut home.

The lawsuit was filed this month in a U.S. District Court in Connecticut by Great Northern Insurance Company. Great Northern made payments in excess of $75,000 to a client after an accidental fire occurred at their family's home.

According to the lawsuit, the fire marshal of the town of Glastonbury concluded that the blaze, which occurred on May 23, 2008, was caused by the "external system components" of the laptop found in the home.

"Unbeknownst to [the client], in 2007 and 2008, Apple had received numerous complaints posted on its own Apple store website alerting Apple to heating, burning and sparking problems with its MagSafe adapters," the suit reads.

"As a result of the aforementioned fire, [the family] sustained severe and extensive damage to their real and personal property and incurred additional living expenses."

Great Northern's lawsuit attempts to prove that the MagSafe adapter was "in a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition" due to Apple. The complaint argues that Apple "manufactured and sold the MagSafe adapter in a condition that it knew, or should have known, subjected the property of others to foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm."



Great Norther has asserted that because Apple "negligently designed and manufactured" the MagSafe adapter, it should be reimbursed for the fire damage that occurred in 2008.

According to the suit, the MacBook Pro and its MagSafe adapter were purchased in August 2007. It states that the computer and its charging accessory were used as intended, and "without abusing or misusing" them.

The latest lawsuit is in addition to one filed in 2009, when Apple was hit with a class-action complaint regarding fires allegedly started by MagSafe adapters. That complaint, filed on behalf of multiple users, claimed that normal day-to-day use destroyed the cable on the MagSafe adapter, potentially leading to sparks or fire.

Sory for that person, but MagSafe is no more dangerous than any other charger. Mine is fine and i'm using it as it should be used. Some people should pay attention how they use stuff.

Which of us is the fisherman and which the trout?

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Which of us is the fisherman and which the trout?

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post #26 of 82
Don't get me wrong ... I'm a longtime reader and 1st time poster ...
If the adapter was the fault, no problem this will setlle (in or out of court - like everything else so far ...) BUT
It amazes me how many people signed up TODAY only to express how they had exactly the SAME problem ... and that Apple is such an "evil" company just wondering ...
post #27 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Povilas View Post

Sory for that person, but MagSafe is no more dangerous than any other charger. Mine is fine and i'm using it as it should be used. Some people should pay attention how they use stuff.

a google image search of "magsafe" shows a bunch of burned connections. Are you sure they aren't dangerous?
post #28 of 82
I have gone through 3 of these in the past 3 year, they are like popcorn. And I am not talking about the magsafe connector itself - I love that part! It's the AC to DC portion that is crap. I had one smoke and 2 others fail. Just have to hope that 1. The don't burn down the house and 2. That it is under warranty. I would join a class action on this if it would improve the quality of these adapters.
post #29 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"What's that? They have 50 billion dollars in cash, you say? Hmmmmmmmm...frivolous lawsuit time!"

Sorry, if the fire marshal determined the MagSafe adapter was the culprit which started a house fire, then it is NOT a frivolous lawsuit. Why should the insurance company absorb the cost which they believe is Apple's fault?

The adapter was quietly redesigned without much comment from Apple. Why? Probably because Apple realized the previous adapter had some design flaws with many people needing to replace their cables. I am on my third cable now for my mid-2009 MacBook Pro which Apple has been replacing for free.
post #30 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamIIGS View Post

I'm as big an apple guy as the next person and if the fire report says this caused the fire, you pay. It's as simple as that and no reason to drag this out. While it does set the tone of future cases, if the fire marshal says that was the cause of the fire, you pay. It's nothing out of apple's pocket and it's the right thing to do. Why drag it out and spend 2x as much on lawyers when in the end you might lose anyway. Then again, I'm not a major corporation looking to protect myself so my opinion means shit.

Do you have evidence that the adapter was not damaged or abused by the user before the incident?
We only have the word of the insurer, who does not know it for a fact as the device will have been destroyed, so they only have the word of the home owner. Not a clear cut case really.
post #31 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Negafox View Post

Sorry, if the fire marshal determined the MagSafe adapter was the culprit which started a house fire, then it is NOT a frivolous lawsuit. Why should the insurance company absorb the cost which they believe is Apple's fault?

The adapter was quietly redesigned without much comment from Apple. Why? Probably because Apple realized the previous adapter had some design flaws with many people needing to replace their cables. I am on my third cable now for my mid-2009 MacBook Pro which Apple has been replacing for free.

It may very well be the culprit but does the fire marshall know the actual state of the adapter before the fire? No they do not and therefore can't say if the unit was damaged or in a safe state to be used or not.
post #32 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by chronster View Post

a google image search of "magsafe" shows a bunch of burned connections. Are you sure they aren't dangerous?

Google image search for "car" shows a bunch of burned cars. Are you sure cars aren't dangerous? See how stupid this is? The core problem is here is not that MagSafe is somehow badly designed, the problem here is both design and how people use it. Some people take care of their stuff, they look after they stuff and some just like a mess they don't think how they are actually using it. I'm not saying it's the case here, but there are two sides of the problem. Mine for example is old, but it looks like new, because i like my stuff to be clean and in working order.

Which of us is the fisherman and which the trout?

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Which of us is the fisherman and which the trout?

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post #33 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"What's that? They have 50 billion dollars in cash, you say? Hmmmmmmmm...frivolous lawsuit time!"

Yeah, the firemarshal is out to get paid

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply
post #34 of 82
As a service tech for an Apple ASP, I will say that the ONLY MagSafe issues I have ever seen are on systems where the MagSafe plug looks as though it were dragged behind the car on the way to the store. It is no more or less dangerous than ANY other AC adapter on the market. Keep in mind that Apple's MagSafe adapter is sold at a price in most cases less than any other replacement AC Adapters on the market they are $79.00 where other Adapters are usually around $100. You CAN replace those adapters as you see wear and tear on them. But I cannot figure out why there would be that much wear. People do need to take a bit of responsibility for themselves, I have a feeling I know what this particular Adapter looked like before allegedly causing that fire.
post #35 of 82
...if the Insurance Co wins, will they knock the insured's rates back down? (I am assuming they increased them due to the claim).
post #36 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

As a service tech for an Apple ASP, I will say that the ONLY MagSafe issues I have ever seen are on systems where the MagSafe plug looks as though it were dragged behind the car on the way to the store. It is no more or less dangerous than ANY other AC adapter on the market. Keep in mind that Apple's MagSafe adapter is sold at a price in most cases less than any other replacement AC Adapters on the market they are $79.00 where other Adapters are usually around $100. You CAN replace those adapters as you see wear and tear on them. But I cannot figure out why there would be that much wear. People do need to take a bit of responsibility for themselves, I have a feeling I know what this particular Adapter looked like before allegedly causing that fire.

Exactly my point. I'm not defending Apple (well i am in a way), but every device you connect to the power outlet can fail due to bad quality, or misuse or 100 other things.

Which of us is the fisherman and which the trout?

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Which of us is the fisherman and which the trout?

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post #37 of 82
I've had magsafe adaptors since they came out on multiple macbook pros. I've also bought extra adaptors so I don't have to cart just the one around the house.

I've never had a problem with any of them.

If this issue is caused by users pulling the cables out by the cable and not by the plastic connector then it's their own fault.

If the adaptors were not magsafe adaptors and were the rubbish pc type "kettle" ones would they pull them out by the cable instead of by the connector? I doubt it as it'd pull the machine over. Laziness and stupidity on the part of the user me thinks.
post #38 of 82
This happened to my macbook I got in late december of 2007 in the summer of 2009.

I went for a run and came home to the smell of burnt electronics and a fried cord. My computer was fine and I don't even have apple care. When I went into the store, they fixed it at no cost. The guy at the store said it was fixed because something like that should "Never" happen. I assumed this would come up again.

Pretty interesting.
post #39 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

As a service tech for an Apple ASP, I will say that the ONLY MagSafe issues I have ever seen are on systems where the MagSafe plug looks as though it were dragged behind the car on the way to the store.

I've been an AASP since before the PowerBook came out and like you, I have seem several burned AC adapters, and each time the cord looked like an animal had been chewing on it, or as you say, it had been dragged behind a car on the way to the store. Almost all of the failures I have seen occurred at the strain relief part of the AC adapter with only a few at the magsafe end and none on the body itself. I have never once seen a burned AC adapter that appeared to be new or in good condition (exempting the burning, obviously).

The one thing I have learned over the years is that buyers are liars when it comes to abused or damaged equipment. I cannot count the number of times that a laptop was brought in that "just stopped working" only to find it dripping wet, usually coffee, wine, or soda, on the inside.
post #40 of 82
Standard procedure for insurance companies. They will try to collect from the party that caused the damage that resulted in the claim payout. If they can prove that the MagSafe was the cause, and then also prove Apple knew of the defect, then more power to them. That's what lawsuits are for. Long before there were mandatory automobile insurance laws an individual hit our family vehicle while my wife was driving. The guy didn't have any insurance. My insurance company paid for the damage to my car since we had collision and comprehensive coverage. I paid the deductable. Five years later I received a check from my insurance company for the deductable I had paid. They had persued this guy for five years, suing him, garnishing his wages, etc., until they got every penny out of him back.

Lawsuits are filed every day. Proving something is another thing. What's really stupid are the ignorant pro and con posts in this thread. Sheesh!
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