Thousand Oaks Teen Watches as His Dell Laptop Turns into a Fireball

Dell and Samsung Settle Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Fatal Fire Ignited by Defective Laptop Battery

A shocking surveillance video shows two teen boys in their Thousand Oaks home, sitting on a couch, playing video games, and eating pizza. Suddenly, their laptop explodes into a ball of fire, barely three feet away from the teens. The video is posted on NBC4’s website. Eighteen-year-old Devon Johnson, the laptop’s owner, said he is grateful it didn’t explode in his face or on his lap. He had apparently plugged in a 4-year-old laptop to charge.

A few hours later, smoke shot out of the side of the computer and it burst into flames. The fire destroyed the computer and burned a large hole in the couch. Johnson and his friend put out the fire. Had they left the computer charging and gone to the movies as they’d planned earlier, the house might have burned down, his parents said. It is also extremely fortunate that Johnson was not using the computer at the time because he would have suffered devastating burn injuries.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

The fire appears to have been caused by the lithium-ion battery in Johnson’s Dell laptop. It’s the same battery technology that’s been in the news lately causing fires in Hoverboards, e-cigarettes, and Samsung Galaxy cell phones. In 2006, Dell did recall 4.1 million laptop batteries for fire risk.

And last week, Hewlett Packard recalled 101,000 laptop batteries, which posed the danger of overheating and causing a fire. Experts say lithium-ion batteries could explode or ignite due to a variety of reasons including manufacturing defects. The Johnson family is in the process of seeking answers to why their laptop exploded when they used it as intended. Dell has promised to conduct a complete investigation.

Can You Prevent Battery Explosions?

It might be impossible to prevent all explosions. It could particularly be out of your control if the explosion of fire occurs because of manufacturing defects or the use of cheap or substandard parts to make these batteries. However, experts say there are some steps you can take to potentially help prevent such fires:

  • Do not charge your devices on something soft or flammable like couches or beds.
  • Charge your device on a hard surface, which allows heat to dissipate.
  • Make sure you don’t allow your device to charge for too long. Unplug your device just before it is fully charged.
  • Never leave a device plugged in or charging overnight.

If you have been injured as a result of a lithium battery fire or explosion, you may be able to file a product liability claim seeking compensation for your injuries damages, and losses. An experienced product defect attorney who specifically handles lithium-ion explosion and burns injury cases can help you better understand your legal rights and options.

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California Personal Injury Blog