Exploding iPod Touch Prompts Lawsuit Against Apple

A Kentucky boy reportedly suffered second-degree burns on his leg from the music player purchased by his mother.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

March 13, 2009

2 Min Read

Exploding iPod Touch (click for larger image)

The mother of a boy from Kentucky on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Apple for burns allegedly caused by an iPod Touch.

The lawsuit, filed in Ohio where plaintiff Lynette Antrobus purchased the music player, claims that Antrobus' son suffered second-degree burns on his leg after his iPod Touch "exploded and caught on fire in his pocket."

On Dec. 4, the complaint states, the iPod Touch "had burned through [the unnamed minor's] pants pocket and melted through his nylon/Spandex underwear, burning his leg."

"As a direct and proximate result of the explosion and resulting fire of the subject Apple [iPod Touch]," the complaint continues, "[Antrobus' son, identified only as A.V.] received second-degree burns to his leg and was otherwise caused pain and suffering, resulting in serious injuries to [A.V.], including but not limited to the second-degree burns to his leg and the incurring medical and hospital expenses in an amount in excess of $15.00."

The complaint states that the boy "continues to suffer from both physical and mental conditions which will cause him to suffer pain, mental distress, emotional distress, and otherwise for the rest of his life."

The lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages for alleged negligence, plus attorney's fees. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked to comment, Ohio attorney John Mulvey said the complaint pretty much speaks for itself. "This guy is sitting in class, and all of a sudden he feels this burning pain," he said, noting that the iPod burned through the boy's clothing.

He said that one of the aims of the lawsuit was to make sure Apple takes steps to prevent similar incidents.

While the device's battery is the likely source of the alleged explosion, Mulvey said he couldn't confirm that because the device has not yet been disassembled, as per the rules governing the handling of evidence.

Exploding batteries are not unheard of, though several reports of such incidents have subsequently been shown to be inaccurate.

The death of Huang Heping, a Chinese man reported to have been killed Jan. 30 when his cell phone exploded, was subsequently attributed to a homemade gun. The death last November of a South Korean man, said to have been killed by an exploding cell phone, was subsequently attributed to an attempt to cover up an industrial accident.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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