Apple sued over faulty iPad battery behind 2017 lethal apartment fire in New Jersey

Posted:
in iPad edited February 15
A lawsuit has accused Apple of being responsible for the death of a man in New Jersey in 2017, following a fire caused by a faulty battery pack in an iPad, with the suit alleging the tablet was "unreasonably dangerous and unsafe" due to having "defects in its design."




Filed with the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, the civil lawsuit concerns the death of Bradley Ireland of Parsippany, New Jersey on February 22, 2017. On that date, an iPad located in the kitchen of the apartment he rented caught fire, which ultimately led to severe injuries and Ireland's subsequent death.

Close to two years later, daughter Julia Ireland Meo and Son Benjamin Ireland have launched the action against Apple over the death. According to the lawsuit, the fire was caused by "a defect" affecting the battery pack of the iPad, allowing for blame to be pinned on Apple directly.

"The subject tablet was unreasonably dangerous and unsafe for its intended purpose by reasons of defects in its design and/or its manufacture and/or a lack of adequate warnings which existed when Defendant Apple placed the subject tablet into the stream of commerce and/or when Defendant distributed and/or sold 'updates' to the subject tablet," the suit alleges.

The suit insists there are three counts against Apple, including one for "Strict Products Liability," another for wrongful death, and a third covering "Survival Action," the time where Ireland "experienced significant pain and suffering" between receiving the burns and his death on the same day.

No specific figure is requested in the suit, but it does ask for compensatory damages, interest, costs, and attorney fees from Apple.

Battery-related incidents in mobile devices are certainly not a new phenomena, but at the same time it is relatively rare that an Apple device ships with a faulty battery that causes a fire without some form of damage. Lawsuits blaming Apple for fires due to the use of iPhones or iPads do occasionally surface, but this is to be expected considering the vast number of products Apple ships with lithium ion batteries.

There have also been reports of fires occurring during attempted repairs, including one incident where a man at a third-party repair center bit a replacement battery, causing a small explosion. Even in these cases, it seems that there is a greater chance of a fire caused through something interfering with the battery's normal operation than through a design flaw.

In cases where a design flaw in a battery does exist, the number of incidents is expected to be far higher. A case in point is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery saga which saw the entire product line being recalled over a faulty battery production process, one that even caused a fire at the factory that produced the batteries in the first place.

Meo Versus Apple by on Scribd

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    Yet another stupid lawsuit.

    I there’s a “known defect” in the iPad, then what is the actual defect? When did Apple know about it? How long did Apple continue to ship iPads with this “known defect”?

    You can’t just claim there’s a known defect (like GM ignition switches, for example) because of a one-off incident.
    magman1979ronnjony0
  • Reply 2 of 20
    A lot of “and/or”s... It is either “and” or “or” it cannot be both. If it is supposed to be both, it is “or”...
  • Reply 3 of 20
    I just read the lawsuit. Under facts it says "The fire was caused by a defect in the subject tablet, specifically affecting the subject tablet's battery pack."

    How do they know that? There is no supplied report by the fire department or any other documents that show the iPad caused the fire. 
    jbdragonmagman1979
  • Reply 4 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,104member
    Attorneys are surely working on a contingency fee basis, and will have done their homework.  I would assume they are betting that Apple will settle to make this go away. 

    Now, if the fire was caused by an iPad (unmodified, no cheap charger, etc) then Apple should be liable for the damage caused, "known defect" or not.   However, that is it millions and millions like I bet the attorneys are hoping for.  
  • Reply 5 of 20
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,675member
    Most house fires are cause but some sort of electrical defect. There are all kinds of electrical house fires and you can not sure the electrical wire manufacturer or the electrician who put it in, unless you can prove they were negligent or they know they had an issue.

    The people filing this case is hoping Apple pays them to go away.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,675member
    I just read the lawsuit. Under facts it says "The fire was caused by a defect in the subject tablet, specifically affecting the subject tablet's battery pack."

    How do they know that? There is no supplied report by the fire department or any other documents that show the iPad caused the fire. 

    They making this assumption and will under discovery require Apple to produce any data they have about Ipad battery failure and any actions they may or may not have taken. I highly doubt they done any independent failure analysis of the ipad. if they did they would have reference it in the case filing.
    jbdragonmagman1979
  • Reply 7 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,725member
    Yes, the attorneys are undoubtedly working on a contingency basis.

    Unfortunately, with lawsuits like this, the defect doesn't actually have to be known or even proven. The logic goes something like 'iPads aren't supposed to catch on fire. The iPad caught fire so there must have been a defect. Apple made the iPad, therefore Apple is responsible for the defect." The fact that it may have been due to a defective charger or cord, or perhaps there was an unknown manufacturing defect in the battery pack that wasn't a design defect and Apple had no way of knowing about gets pushed aside and a jury of people with no technical skills is asked to decide in favor of the poor plaintiffs who lost everything because this big, evil corporation didin't care enough about his safety to check the battery. Gotta love our legal system.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 catching fire in numerous instances around the world is a design defect. A one-time fire for an iPad may be a manufacturing defect, but it is obviously in no way a design defect.
    jbdragonmagman1979
  • Reply 9 of 20
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,025member
    Apple apologists to the attack!
  • Reply 10 of 20
    Yet another stupid lawsuit.

    I there’s a “known defect” in the iPad, then what is the actual defect? When did Apple know about it? How long did Apple continue to ship iPads with this “known defect”?

    You can’t just claim there’s a known defect (like GM ignition switches, for example) because of a one-off incident.
    Under the terms of product liability, a “defect” does nog necrssarily refer tot a systematic issue in teams of design, manufacturing or instructions. It can simply be a singular case due to eg. a single component defect. Nothing out of he ordnunary. Happens all the time, even though in this case obviously with severe co sequences. 

    Depending on circumstances such as country, age of product etc it is either the defendant’s or the claimant’s task to prove the absence/presence of a defect. 

    Also, there is sometimes what’s called “social justice” meaning when a David is up against a Goliath in case of grey rather than black or white situations, courts may tend to lean in the claimant’s side. 

    Again, nothing special here. 
  • Reply 11 of 20
    I just read the lawsuit. …

    How do they know that? There is no supplied report by the fire department or any other documents that show the iPad caused the fire. 
    That's evidence they would introduce at the trial or in discovery, not in the filing.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    spice-boy said:
    Apple apologists to the attack!
    Idiot anti-Apple trolls to the attack!
    macplusplusronnjony0
  • Reply 13 of 20
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,891member
    Also, there is sometimes what’s called “social justice” meaning when a David is up against a Goliath in case of grey rather than black or white situations, courts may tend to lean in the claimant’s side. 

    But isn’t justice supposed to be blind, so that everyone is treated the same before the law? Or is sticking “social” in front of a word a Gramsci trick to deliberately reverse the meaning of the word that follows it? Actually, come to thing of it, that is pretty much what putting “social” in front of word does. Social justice, social licence, social science, social studies, social work.  Amazing! It really does reverse the meaning!
  • Reply 14 of 20
    spice-boy said:
    Apple apologists to the attack!
    What responses would you expect from Apple fans on an Apple centric website ? Comments like this are purely for starting something;  because you know damn well there is no widespread problem with iPad batteries burning people and their homes. 
    ronnjony0
  • Reply 15 of 20
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,893member
    Yet another stupid lawsuit.

    I there’s a “known defect” in the iPad, then what is the actual defect? When did Apple know about it? How long did Apple continue to ship iPads with this “known defect”?

    You can’t just claim there’s a known defect (like GM ignition switches, for example) because of a one-off incident.
    Actually Lithium Polymer batteries are  known safety hazards. It take very little to put them into thermal run away.  
  • Reply 16 of 20
    entropys said:
    Also, there is sometimes what’s called “social justice” meaning when a David is up against a Goliath in case of grey rather than black or white situations, courts may tend to lean in the claimant’s side. 

    But isn’t justice supposed to be blind, so that everyone is treated the same before the law? Or is sticking “social” in front of a word a Gramsci trick to deliberately reverse the meaning of the word that follows it? Actually, come to thing of it, that is pretty much what putting “social” in front of word does. Social justice, social licence, social science, social studies, social work.  Amazing! It really does reverse the meaning!
    Of course, it is supposed to be blind. However, judges are humans and therefore prone to be emotionally affected. In addition, usually they are not subject matter experts in technical areas and rely on third party witnesses. Now, let’s suppose a fire happened as mentioned in the article. An „expert“ comes forth arguing it must have been the iPad that caused the fire (in fire cases often the method of elimination is used - not actually proofing what caused the fire, but looking for evidence as to what didn’t) and the “well known fact” that batteries pose by themselves already a certain danger. Then chances are the manufactures is held liable. And depending on the damages versus costs of further litigation simply agrees.  
    Just to clarify: the term “social justice” is not a Terminus technicus, and nothing official. It is simply commonly used when in unclear cases the obviously weaker party wins against the deeper pockets. If justice would be really blind you’d expect somthing like a 50% to 50% distribution in unclesr cases. It isn’t. 
  • Reply 17 of 20
    wizard69 said:
    Yet another stupid lawsuit.

    I there’s a “known defect” in the iPad, then what is the actual defect? When did Apple know about it? How long did Apple continue to ship iPads with this “known defect”?

    You can’t just claim there’s a known defect (like GM ignition switches, for example) because of a one-off incident.
    Actually Lithium Polymer batteries are  known safety hazards. It take very little to put them into thermal run away.  
    Knives are known safety hazards. Still,they are not defective because of this intrinsic danger. 
  • Reply 18 of 20
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,518member
    wizard69 said:
    Yet another stupid lawsuit.

    I there’s a “known defect” in the iPad, then what is the actual defect? When did Apple know about it? How long did Apple continue to ship iPads with this “known defect”?

    You can’t just claim there’s a known defect (like GM ignition switches, for example) because of a one-off incident.
    Actually Lithium Polymer batteries are  known safety hazards. It take very little to put them into thermal run away.  
    Actually Lithium-Polymer batteries are known potential saftey hazards if handled improperly. Your 'it takes very little...' remark is disingenuous at best and mostly FUD. Not to mention the number of fires caused by thermal runaway being very small.

    That the iPad's battery was at fault as yet to be demonstrated, and that won't happen until the discovery phase of the trial, if it comes to that.

    People are quick to assume when someone files a suit like this, that someone is looking for a payday. More often than not, they're looking to make someone pay — not the same thing. In either case, they will have to convince a jury or judge of their assertions or hope for an out of court settlement.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,460member
    Many other questions to answer before we get to the iPad in this case.

    From an article at the time of the fire...

    "A neighbor in the same multi-unit garden-apartment building, Somesh Saxena, said he evacuated Apt. 4J after hearing a fire alarm sound at about 4 a.m"

    Did the victim just not hear it?  We were once at my moms place and had a birthday party in their community room.  Lit some candles and blew them out...BOOM...off goes the fire alarms and boy were they loud!!  It seems they were all hooked up and working in this case and fire department responded quickly.  Did he just sleep through it??  Kitchens don't normally have smoke detectors installed so were there doors blocking the smoke from reaching one before it was an established fire?


  • Reply 20 of 20
    elehcdnelehcdn Posts: 382member
    "The investigation has been completed.  The cause is undetermined at this time; however, the origin is believed to be on the kitchen floor in the area of electrical appliances.  There is no indication of criminal activity."

    https://parsippanyfocus.com/2017/02/22/breaking-news-apartment-fire-colonial-heights-apartments/
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