State Farm and Wisconsin Woman Sue Apple over iPhone 4s Induced Fire


We’ve heard plenty of stories about spontaneously exploding iPhones in the past, some of which allegedly caused extensive damage to their owners or the dwellings in which they live. But today’s tale is arguably the first in which a well-established entity in the private sector has joined forces with the afflicted in pursuit of justice.

Enter Xai Thao, a resident of suburban New Richmond, Wisconsin, who as a co-complainant alongside her homeowners insurance provider, State Farm, has filed a full-scale lawsuit against Apple in which the duo alleges that Thao’s “defective and unreasonably dangerous” iPhone 4s caused a damaging fire at her home on April 1, 2016.

Lodged on Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, State Farm and Thao’s complaint allege that the latter suffered over $75,000 in out-of-pocket expenses as the result of damages caused by a “significant and localized heating event” that transpired near the battery compartment of her iPhone 4s.

The complaint goes on to detail that Thao purchased the iPhone 4s new back in 2014; however, whether it was purchased directly from Apple or an Apple-authorized retailer remains unknown. A full transcript of the suit and its litany of complaints was posted to Scribd by user Mikey Campbell shortly after it was filed.

State Farm’s preliminary investigation concluded that the faulty device showed “remnants of internal shorting” caused by a localized overheating event, which the complaint claims are clear indications that the fire and ensuing damage to Thao’s home was caused by an “internal failure” of the iPhone 4s.

The complaint goes on to maintain that Thao received the iPhone in new condition, and that she had neither tampered with the battery nor sought to have it replaced at any time. Moreover, no other potential fire hazards were present at the time, and the complaint cites a thorough examination of the device which concluded that the battery damage was not caused by any kind of external fire source.

As the insurer guaranteeing Thao’s policy, State Farm was thusly obliged to cover a portion of the damages sustained during the incident. However the complaint alleges that Thao also incurred substantive out-of-pocket expenses that were not covered under the terms of her policy.

While lengthy, the complaint centers around two key accusations that are being leveled against Apple: one being that the iPhone 4s was defective at the time Thao received it, and the second arguing “negligence on Apple’s part for designing, manufacturing, and placing the device in circulation.”

“As a direct and proximate result of Apple’s negligence in the design, manufacture, and/or sale of the iPhone, Thao sustained damage to her personal property,” the filing states.

Thao, with full backing by the U.S. insurance-giant, is seeking “unspecified damages” and monetary compensation as deemed fit by the court.

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