Family seeks $600,000 from Apple; blames iPhone charging cable for sparking fire that destroyed house

“A B.C. couple are demanding Apple pay $600,000 in uninsured losses after they were forced to close their farm business following a devastating house fire that they claim was sparked by a faulty iPhone,” Yvette Brend reports for CBC News. “Cathy and Ian Finley believe a three-month-old iPhone 6 left plugged into a charge cord somehow heated up and started a fire in their living room in October 2016.”

“Fire officials who found the blackened device while investigating reported that ‘it would appear that the phone or charger generated enough heat to ignite’ in a chair that was identified as the place the fire started,’ Brend reports. “While there’s no official determination of the cause of the fire, it’s sparked the passions of people who support the Finleys’ business, Laurica Farm. Hundreds of people have signed a petition on Change.org and Facebook demanding Apple pay the family for losses after they were forced to close their popular farm, which was known for kids camps and sustainable farming tours.”

“Apple confirmed it is looking into the couple’s claim, but had no comment,” Brend reports. “Exactly how flames were sparked in the Langley, B.C., farmhouse on Oct. 11, 2016, remains unclear.”

“After a year of negotiating, a $600,000 insurance payout allowed the Finleys to begin rebuilding. But the ordeal hurt their farming business and insurance didn’t cover all costs,” Brend reports. “A year later, after building up the courage to call Apple, then months of chasing them for help and sobbing on the phone, Finley said she has given up on addressing the issue with them directly… So now, the Finleys are trying to shame Apple into covering those losses by letting people hear the tearful recordings of their calls to the company, which they’ve published on social media.”

“A private forensic firm working for fire officials has the destroyed phone. Apple has been unable to examine the burned phone or cord and won’t commit to further action until then,” Brend reports. “Langley Fire Prevention Officer Capt. Ken Strand… clarified that an official cause of the fire has yet to be determined. ‘The cellphone was on a combustible surface while charging. It was in the area of origin but was not ruled out or determined to be the igniting object or direct cause of the fire,’ he wrote to CBC. The Co-operators [the Finleys’ insurance company] told CBC they are ready to let Apple examine the phone as soon as they can all get together.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So amid a bunch of attempts to tug at heartstrings (see full article), some salient facts shine through:

• “There’s no official determination of the cause of the fire.”

• “Exactly how flames were sparked in the Langley, B.C., farmhouse on Oct. 11, 2016, remains unclear.”

• “Apple has been unable to examine the burned phone or cord.”

• “An official cause of the fire has yet to be determined.”

Yet, hundreds of people have signed a petition demanding that Apple pay $600,000 despite there being no official determination of the cause of the fire. That sounds about par for the course at Change.org and Facebook.

Here’s an idea: Give the iPhone, cord and charger to Apple to examine before you start demanding $600,000.

30 Comments

      1. Yet the charger is in surprisingly good shape.

        Why is the insurance company fighting with Apple? They fought to get away with paying the least amount they could so they should be done with it unless they’re trying to sue Apple too.

        Sharing recorded ‘tearful’ phone calls? That sounds like a setup. Are they suing the chair manufacturer too for selling a flammable chair?

        Yes, the battery in the phone burnt up since they are flammable, but the picture doesn’t show a gross deformation indicating a catastrophic failure. Look at the related stories on the page and timing makes it sound they are trying to link it to the Samsung battery issue.

        Why won’t they let Apple look at the phone and cord? Try asking your insurance company to pay for a fire without looking at the cause and see how far that goes.

        And the stalled farm & tour business is their own fault. Why should Apple pay them anything for that. The farm didn’t burn down. Why don’t all these concerned petition signers do the tours and buy their produce to support them instead of ‘signing’ a petition to get free money?

        Sorry your house burned down but that doesn’t give you the right to demand over a half million dollars after the insurance company already paid out.

        1. https://9to5mac.com/2014/02/22/this-is-what-an-iphone-5s-looks-like-when-its-battery-catches-fire-and-explodes/

          It’s not the charger that bursts into flames. It merely provides the power to the malfunctioning charger controller and battery inside the phone. Apple’s had bad batteries in the past, even inside Apple stores.

          If a jury would award pain and suffering payments for all kinds of things that fail from McDonalds coffee cups to ladders, then it’s hard to see how a big corporation like Apple could not be exposed to claims from its failed products. The court of law or arbitrator will determine the outcome, not anyone here.

  1. The internet these days… all about a bunch of mindless zombies yelling “burn the witch” back and forth with another bunch of mindless zombies.

    Because ’emotions’ cant be wrong. Validate me mother****er. You better or I’ll share my emotions I feels on you.

    All noise.

  2. Three month old iPhone seems unlikely but Apple’s fraying iPhone Cables are a real problem and it’s surprising to me this hasn’t become a safety issue yet.

  3. I noticed my short bedside table Apple cord which doesn’t get a lot of tension or misuse has started to fray a bit above the Lightning plug. I was surprised to see that. I’ve seen that when kids abuse these cables but rarely for myself. A short-circuit fire situation does cross one’s mind as a possibility. Hmm, well guess I better prep the necessary legal work for a nice $600,000 Apple payday. 😉

  4. Paying for homeowner’s insurance is a pain… but I pay it. These folks had a $600,000 home an no insurance? In addition to the value of the lot on which the house is built? If they had a mortgage their bank would make them carry homeowner’s insurance. Hmmm. Seems stupid to me.

    1. … have insurance and got a $600,000 payout. But now they want to milk Apple for $600,000 more. It took a year to negotiate the payment, but they didn’t think until later to go after Apple. I smell absolute bullshit.

  5. Obviously the Apple supplied cords are today and have always been trash. Every single one I’ve had since the original iPhone has failed at the 30 pin or lightning connector. Hence the market for the fabric wrapped cables and the much more substantial generics from Amazon. If Apple spent their money on better cables instead of the breathless experience of the box that goes in the trash, we wouldn’t be reading this item. But no, Jony wants devices too thin to hold an all day battery, cables too fragile to support years of use, and walls too clear to see. Yep, that’s the company that’s overcharged it’s customers by $200 BILLION. See, aren’t they super cool and fashionable?

    1. Every single one of my Apple supplied cables are still working (along with their devices). However clumsy people who damage things are always oblivious to the damage they thoughtlessly cause, and love to blame others for their misfortunes. BTW, if you really have been unhappy with Apple all these years, why stay a customer so long. I call BS post.

    2. Anker cables are better and their IQ Chargers cost less than Apple and charge better. Have one about the size of the iPad charger in Black with 2 USBs and it will charge my iPhone and iPad faster than Apple’s.

      It is also not white. Someone needs to tell Jony the white earbuds, cables, chargers, mice and trackpads look dated.

      The fabric wrapped cables also are less prone to tangle.

  6. So, my house burns down, and I blame my toaster. Can I get Hamilton Beach to pay for my house? (sounds stupid doesn’t it) Even if the iphone caused the fire – did these people take proper care? Was the cord frayed and they should have replaced it? It seems very unlikely that an Apple cord would catastrophically fail without some obvious defects. Too many questions need answered before Apple should be blamed.

  7. Not the first time an IPhone smoldered. I feel sorry for the family.

    MDN take is immature and cynical. The Finley’s insurer is using a third party unbiased lab to investigate the lithium fire for obvious reasons. You don’t understand this? You have the gall to throw FUD on the Finleys without any knowledge of the situation. That is distasteful inthe extreme.

    We all know MDN would instantly sue Microsoft if some house guest’s Surface failed and sent your house aflame. No?

    The pictures on the report are compelling, the firemen are highly confident in their instincts here. They know foul play when it happens. This has no signs of foul play. How is it that MDN and other uninformed fanboys feel entitled to declare definitely the conclusion from behind your computer halfway around the world without looking like biased fools? Are you all seriously contending that Apple wires and chargers are 100% perfect????

    Your rush to judgment to defend the Chinese contractors that slapped together chargers and batteries for the richest corporation in the world is premature. Good companies make mistakes, great companies make it right. You are using FUD to sway public opinion in favor of your favorite corporate overlord. How pathetic. All for the equivalent of 2 hours of Timmy’s pay at his insanely overweight rate. Big deal. Apple could settle this out of court in 15 minutes and have the phone for all the further investigation they want.

    I wish MDN would grow up. Your boundless cynicism is doing nothing to make Apple look better here. It sounds like Apple is being a typical corporation, taking no responsibility until dragged into court and embarrassed at length for their callous actions. The 3rd party lab will deliver their conclusions and then Apple can try to weasel out of any responsibility using their crack team of attorneys and Jony’s heartful video witness testimony.

    If the couple is correct, which appears likely, shall we expect a follow up story from MDN with a sincere apology for their FUD?

    1. A lot of waffling and not saying anything. Apple should just settle and pay out court when cause has not been determined. These people deserve free money just because Apple has the money. Doesn’t matter if Apple is culpable or not. And yet you claim MDN is being immature and cynical. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black? Where is the evidence Apple is to blame? Feelings, emotions and instincts are not evidence.

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