Dell, Samsung, and State Farm Insurance have agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit that stemmed from a fatal house fire caused by a defective laptop battery. According to a report in the Northern California Record, the original complaint was filed over a 2014 fire in Hayward, Calif. The fire happened in the home of Juan Gonzalez. The lawsuit said the cause of the fire was the “catastrophic failure of a laptop manufactured, designed, distributed and sold by the defendants.” Gonzalez died in the fire.
The lawsuit said the defendants, Dell and Samsung, knew or should have known that the failure to properly design, manufacture and test the laptop battery would increase the risk of a dangerous fire. In addition to selling a dangerous product, the lawsuit stated, Dell and Samsung failed to warn Gonzalez of any possible harm. Neither Dell nor Samsung refuted their wrongdoing during complaint discussions and no trial was authorized. The parties involved went forward with private mediation and reached a settlement in January. The agreement was approved by a judge on Feb. 5.
Dell Laptop Battery Issues
Dell and Samsung have both had their share of problems with lithium-ion batteries that exploded and/or caught fire causing injuries, property damage and in some cases, deaths. Over the last few years, we have seen dramatic videos of lithium-ion batteries in a wide number of devices exploding or igniting – from e-cigarettes and laptops to hoverboards and cell phones. These incidents have caused a number of airlines to ban these devices aboard their flights.
Lithium-ion batteries have inherent issues. However, a number of these fires and explosions occur because the batteries are made poorly or with substandard parts. Manufacturers either lack quality control or attempt to cut corners to turn a quick profit. The consumers, sometimes, end up paying the ultimate price.
Product Defects and Wrongful Death
Under California law, wrongful death is defined as a fatality that is caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another. Product defects are often the source of wrongful death actions particularly when the defects result in the deaths of consumers. These types of deaths are particularly tragic because the person would have been alive had the product manufacturer done their due diligence and made a product that was safe for consumers. Wrongful death actions are typically brought by immediate family members and seek compensation for damages such as medical and funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering, and loss of love and companionship.