Apple sued over death blamed on faulty iPad battery

Was iPad’s Lithium-ion battery at fault for lethal apartment fire?

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Apple sued over death blamed on faulty iPad battery

In the early morning of February 22, 2017, a fire broke out at the apartment of 64-year-old Bradley Ireland in Parsippany, New Jersey.

Sadly, Ireland suffered serious injuries in the fire and died some hours later.

The reason why we’re talking about this? According to a law suit newly filed by Ireland’s daughter, Julia Ireland Meo, a defective Apple iPad is being blamed for the fire.

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According to the law suit filed against Apple, “the fire and the resulting death… was caused by the defectively designed and/or defectively manufactured subject tablet.”

The suit is not specific about how much money Ireland’s family hopes to receive from Apple, but it does ask for compensatory damages, interest, and costs including attorney fees.

Apple iPhones and iPads are powered by Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. Considering that Apple claims to have sold more than two billion iPhones and iPads, you would expect any serious defect in the manufacturing of their batteries to have come to light before now.

I might understand it if a device had been badly damaged in a store or during shipment, but if there was an inherent problem with iPhone and iPad batteries catching fire you would have expected to have heard much more about it by now.

That’s not to say that other technology manufacturers haven’t suffered serious problems in this area.

The likes of Dell, Lenovo, and Nokia are amongst the numerous companies who have in the past recalled millions of batteries in their laptops and phones due to safety concerns.

Perhaps most notoriously, in 2016 Samsung announced it was recalling millions of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones over a battery flaw. A few months later, a fire broke out at a Samsung manufacturing plant. A fire caused by… err… faulty batteries.

Although reports of Apple’s popular gadgets catching fire are relatively rare, they’re not completely unknown.

For instance, last year, a family in British Columbia demanded CA $600,000 (US $454,000) from Apple after its uninsured farmhouse was destroyed in a blaze. A fire that the family blamed upon a cable being used to charge an iPhone 6.

I have no way of knowing if there is any truth in a faulty iPad battery being to blame for the apartment fire, but it sure seems a lot less frivolous than the class action brought earlier this month by a man who’s upset that Apple’s two-factor authentication process takes too much time.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

3 comments on “Apple sued over death blamed on faulty iPad battery”

  1. coyote

    No. Apple should not be sued. This is a problem with Li batteries in general. And who's to say he didn't have too many devices plugged in? Who's to say any number of other things? Tragic? Sure. But with electricity comes a risk. Deal with it like an adult and don't try and get rich off it[0]. This is sort of like someone suing a battery company because they left batteries loose and two touched each other and ignited. In other words it's ridiculous and not the company's fault.

    Agree with your last thought for sure. My thinking is that instead of trying to get money they would be better to raise awareness. You know – for the better of mankind rather than selfishness?

    [0] It's not much better than arson for insurance purposes in my mind.

  2. coyote

    Couple other things:

    They want attorney costs covered? If they weren't suing would they have any? Certainly they wouldn't have as many so it's sort of their own doing.

    'you would expect any serious defect in the manufacturing of their batteries to have come to light before now'

    Good point. And brilliant pun. (I only saw it after reading the article after scrolling up – didn't read it at first.)

    In the end this is a problem with batteries and electricity and even if there was a damage in shipment the new owner should be sensible enough to contact Apple (or whomever/whatever) rather than use it. If not it's their fault if any fault can be placed,.

  3. Angie Jones

    For all we know, he was probably using it while he was charging it, fell asleep and it over heated because it was on his bed, and it caught fire, or he could've been using a cheap 3rd party charger. It's not the first time that's happened. I use my iPhone while it's charging overnight and it gets warm, but I use the charger than came with my phone, and I usually put it on the floor when I'm finished.

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