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

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 81
    "What's that? They have 50 billion dollars in cash, you say? Hmmmmmmmm...frivolous lawsuit time!"
  • Reply 2 of 81
    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.



  • Reply 3 of 81
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 81
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 81
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 81
    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?
  • Reply 7 of 81
    [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.
  • Reply 8 of 81
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 81
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 81
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    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).
  • Reply 11 of 81
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 81
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 81
    This MagSafe is another example of Apple truly smoking the competition...
  • Reply 14 of 81
    "...manufacturing and distributing personal computers and related products"



    I'd hardly recognize Apple in 2010 from the description.
  • Reply 15 of 81
    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!
  • Reply 16 of 81
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 81
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 81
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,990member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 81
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 81
    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.
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