back to article iPod Touch torches tyke's trousers

A US district court judge is being asked to award a 15-year-old boy $225,000 (£160,000) because his iPod exploded in his pants. Being an Apple lawyer is no fun. You have to deal with pesky clone-makers, self-destructing hard drives, flaming iPhones, and now an exploding iPod touch. Or, as the lawsuit calls it, an "iTouch." …


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  1. Christoph

    Spandex underwear?

    Hang on, if he's wearing a Spandex suit under his regular clothes shouldn't he be invulnerable to injury?

  2. Dave in the States

    Perhaps the device was really...

    the new Apple iTorch?

    Mines the one with the smoldering pockets.

  3. Alexis Vallance


    £160,000 is as greedy as f*ck.

    £250 for a new iPod + £500 for his burn + costs is what he deserves.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    "He 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."

    For the REST OF HIS LIFE????

    I think the embarrassment of being found wearing Spandex is more likely to damage the poor lad for life. He should be suing his mother for that atrocity.

    And, since Apple don't and never have made a product called "iTouch" surely this lawsuit isn't valid?

    Strange how the school didn't send the boy to the school nurse for medical attention, despite apparently having a second degree burn. Instead, they called his Mother, who had to travel to the school and pick the boy up and take him to the doctor for medical attention, all while his leg was still burning... (supposedly)

    Somehow, I don't think the burn was too bad. considering they incurred "medical and hospital expenses in an amount in excess of $15.00.". Yes, FIFTEEN DOLLARS. What's that? A bit of Savlon cream and a Band-aid at US medical prices?

    At the very most, Apple should replace his iPod under warranty, pay his "huge" medical bill of $15 and buy him some new trousers and under-crackers (non-spandex preferably).

    Suing for $225,000 is extortion.

    And trying to sue all the AppleStore staff too is ridiculous. Americans will sue anyone for anything...

  5. E

    Apple store

    All I can say is that my one and only Apple Store experience (Pacific Centre, BC) left me with the impression that all the staff were indoctrinated past the capacity for independent thought. I don't think the staff was capable of malice anymore

    I asked for a wireless keyboard: two of them started to wave iPhones and iPods at me in a somewhat lascivious manner. On my way out, these two slammin' asian Apple chicks tried to interest me in Macbook Pros with a nice lead in of cocked hips and slightly out thrust breast, nearly succeeded too. The place was weirder than a high end Shinjuku department store with all it's silent, bowing semi-kawaii shop girls.

    Then again this was in Vancouver, perhaps they all were just really stoned.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Can 'merkins...

    ...get any more f**king pathetic with their lawsuit bo**ocks?

    "He 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."

    I soooooo want to scream when I see shite like that. Get a bloody grip woman!! His leg got burnt, a bit... You make it sound like it got burnt completely off!

    // Flames 'cause, well... Liar, liar pants on fire!

  7. Tom
    Jobs Horns

    I wonder

    how many times he has had to deal with the line "lier, lier, pants on fire" since the event... :)

    That should add a few $ to the pain and suffering award.

  8. pctechxp


    Your iPod's on fire!!!!

    Sorry, just heard the Kings of Leon.

    Mine's the one with the hole burnt in the pocket

  9. Peter Richard
    Thumb Down

    Maybe the kid made himself an ass

    Maybe the kid made himself an ass by putting a relatively delicate electonic device in his ass pocket. So embrassed by such a moronic act and now needing a playem, he needs money from somewhere,

  10. PT

    Ludicrously small claim

    Only $225,000? That's practically an admission of triviality. But blame the lawyer, not the plaintiff. She might well have been content with actual damages plus a sweetener. What I find hard to believe is that an American lawyer will get out of bed in the morning for only $90,000 (40% of the award, if she gets it). It must be the recession.

  11. Ted

    The only iPod touch that burns?

    isn't it odd that this child has somehow found the ONLY ipod touch that gets hot enough to burn?

    the real story is something like this... the kid charges ipod touch right before it is put into his pocket, goes home, changes clothes, mother notices a slight pink area to his skin, then she calls lawyer to request $75,000 for pink skin.

    this is obviously not a product default or there would be 100's of other cases, and worse case is SONY would be liable, not apple.

    this mother is a money grubbing idiot, nuff said.

  12. Eddy Ito

    Sadly, they have a real shot

    Jury folk aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the shed and are easily manipulated by the pernicious plucking of emotional strings by the likes of a personal injury lawyer. Please let the defendants have the foresight and the ability to waive a jury trial and hope for the best with a judge. Please note, a judge is still a tool, merely sharper than the common jury variety. Not that it will matter, 57 appeals from now, little AV will settle for $1800 and a BJ to be supplied by some five tooth prostitute who is destined to become Mrs. little AV for about as long as the $1800 holds out.

  13. Mark Milaszkiewicz

    I'm so glad that this was pointed out

    thanks anonymous coward - "And, since Apple don't and never have made a product called "iTouch" surely this lawsuit isn't valid?"

    i totally agree.. if you can't get the product name right, how do we know it was even a proper apple product, though they say they bought it from an apple store etc, he could have actually picked up his nice chinese clone that then exploded, which could have been called an iTouch..

  14. Chris C


    Regarding the line about him suffering for the rest of his life, I, like most of the commenters, offer a hearty "FUCK YOU" to the dumb shit who uttered that line, and a mighty boot to the head to anyone who actually believes it.

    As for the child's leg burns, I'm not too sympathetic there, either. Why? Because he was stupid. If I heard a pop and felt my leg getting hot, do you know what I would do? I WOULD TAKE THE DAMN DEVICE OUT OF MY POCKET! I would not remove my pants, and I would not run to the bathroom. I would remove the device, thereby eliminating any chance of serious burns. It's not like we're dealing with a child of diminished intelligence here (are we? Well, it IS Kentucky...). This was a 15-year-old who, if he had average intelligence, would have removed the offending device immediately.

    And, of course, a hearty "FUCK YOU" to the twat who filed the lawsuit. Shit like that pisses me off. It's as if everybody forgot the meaning of the word "accident". I really wish judges would exercise some backbone and point out that these types of lawsuits are, for the most part, frivolous, and punish the plaintiffs accordingly.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was he sitting on it?

    If the device was in his back pocket the failure could have been caused mechanically.

    Perhaps the Reg Labs can bend a few for science?

  16. Tom Maddox Silver badge


    It's Kentucky--they don't have electricity there.

  17. Charles Manning

    $90k lawyer

    $225k might be big potatoes in Kentucky, but the lawyer could easily find himself sued for professional negligence. He could have easily pumped this up to a multi-million dollar claim and by suing for only $225k he is opening himself up to negligence because he is not doing the Right Thing for his client.

    Still, $225k will keep young AV in hookers and Viagra to compensate for his emotional scars.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @outraged reg commenters

    The 'suffering for the rest of his life' thing is boilerplate, and you guys know it - it means as much as the stuff saying that a movie is licensed in all media known and unknown through the whole universe, or whatever. You make ludicrous claims and ask for ludicrous damages, and when the dust settles it gets knocked down to something normal. This happens every lawsuit, every time... and every time there've always got to be some genius forum posters ready to proclaim the end of civilization. Christ, you guys will jump on anything if it's a good excuse to work yourselves into a lather, won't you?

    Oh, and at Chris C - if there's something in your pocket that's on fire, would your first instinct be to reach in and GRAB IT WITH YOUR HAND? I think I'd prefer that the side of my leg get burned than my palm and fingers.

    But hey, the kid's from Kentucky, as many here have pointed out, and is therefore an inbred hick, so he must have done the wrong thing. Hyuck hyuck!

    *rolls eyes*

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Should have had in his front pocket, he could have got a Darwin award for improving the gene pool.

    Paris, who has also felt a hot burning sensation in her behind

  20. Moss Icely Spaceport

    Kentucky fried chillun....

    ...did the kid have any illegal music on his iTouchy thing?

    We won't sue YOU if you don't sue US!

  21. Robert E A Harvey


    When you said Tyke, I thought you mean someone from Yorkshire, which would have been quite an important discovery. A yorkshireman with functioning trouser pockets? Shirely knot! A Yorkshireman who had bought an iThing? Unlikely in the extreme.

    But then it transpires you were talking about someone from far far away, and I know nothing about the fiscal tightness of Kentuckians.

    Mines the one I nicked from the county council.

  22. Stef


    $15 medical expenses? My dad got charged $20 for an asprin when he dislocated his shoulder, and that was 9 years ago. What the hell does $15 cover in US hospitals these days? Is that the entrance fee?

  23. Edward Miles

    Dear Mr. Rik Myslewski

    We hereby revoke your alliteration license.


    The English Language.

  24. Ascylto

    Ahhhh, bless!

    With a mother like that I'll bet he also had a pink ribbon on his spandex grundies!

  25. Adam


    Yay, sue them. If Apple goes bust then I'll no longer have to endure their employees trying to drag me into their shops to do a "personality test" and check for "operating thetan levels".

    Seriously, I was in an Apple store in Salisbury, and while I was there an employee tried to get me to buy a Mac Pro (which doesn't play high-def movies, go figure!). I jokingly said "Sorry, I've not witnessed enough sermons from the Mighty Job to cross over yet."... He didn't find anything odd about that comment... Oh dear.

  26. Dave


    yup, first thing I would do is put water on the lithium based battery. Lithium will definitely stop being a problem with water on it.

  27. adam

    First there was laptop batteries and now's there's Ipods

    "He 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."

    Somehow I think the rest of his life is way over the top. Guess the lawyer said we'll put that in to make it sound good.

    If it is an Apple product then why shouldn't a person be able to sue them for a reasonable amount. I wouldn't expect any product to burn me because of an electrical fault.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Static? Tampering?

    Nylon undercrackers!? Could the conflagration have been caused by static electricity?

    Hopefully he has had the iPod looked at by an expert, otherwise no doubt Apple will claim that none of their devices have ever done this before so it must have been tampered with.

    Sueing 10 Apple Store employees seems truely bizarre. It's one thing alleging that a specific employee told her the iPod was safe knowing full well it wasn't, but to claim all ten employees were complicit? Presumably that means that she can't prove which employee actually sold her the device so she's going after all ten. I don't know about US law, but in blighty you can't sue an entire group of people because of what one of them did. Furthermore in Blighty for her case against the Apple Store employees to stick she would have to prove that they knew the device was likely to combust. Sounds to me like a speculative case, sue as many people as possible for as many things as possible and hope something will stick. It ought to be chucked out on those grounds alone, but since the legal profession like to be tied up in complicated cases for weeks at a time while they "earn" their fees so that's not going to happen.

    These cases always bring to mind the case back in the eighties where a motorcyclist (in LA IIRC) sued Bell helmets after an accident. He wasn't wearing a helmet when the emergency services picked him out of the bushes, he admitted that the helmet had not been fastened and had come off during the accident, he suffered no head injuries and finally he had no proof that the alleged lost helmet was actually a Bell other than his insistence that the salesman had told him it was the best helmet money could buy so it must have been a Bell.

  29. Peyton


    $15 was probably an insurance co-pay, which is interesting in and of itself. Having insurance that covers any medical bills will not play favorably for his case.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    To those asking how much healthcare you can get for 10 USD...

    I just had shoulder surgery for a total of about 30 USD and that was for 3 prescriptions. Everything else was covered, including physical therapy. Good employers take care of their employees and get the same courtesy.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Spare change????

    Doesn't actually mention in the article which pocket said device was occupying but have to wonder if a pocketful of change or keyring alongside the iTorch had anything to do with it? Had a spare nine volt battery get rather warm once when shorted by coins in a pocket, not to mention the coins got pretty toasty too. Should have sued Duracell.....

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why would having insurance be a Bad Thing?

    Surely that would indicate that his parents are serious about his health and have taken reasonable steps to ensure the continuing goodness of said health.

    OK, I know that he won't be awarded medical expenses, but as these would be *expenses* there is no lawful profit to be made from their recovery.

    Or is that not how it works in the US?

  33. Peyton


    Having insurance in this country is great - for when you are sick.

    Having insurance when you're trying to milk Apple for a quarter of a million dollars - not so great. When I said "case" - I didn't mean his "situation" - I meant quite literally his court case. So, since the amount they are suing for does not include medical expenses - both present and future (insurance is still there for future expenses) - they will have to explain the money as being needed for pain and suffering, which is not as easy to prove.

    Incidentally, unlike auto insurance, etc., medical insurance in this country is rarely purchased solely by an individual. It is almost always provided via employer, with only a small portion of the cost being payed for by the employee.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That would depend on whether his insurance covered him for any of the other putative losses in the claim. It is an offence, in the UK at least, to claim for the same loss twice.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Peyton + AC

    Sorry, I still don't get it, maybe I am just a little slower than normal today.

    I understand that with medical insurance (and therefore not spending money yourself) you won't be able to claim for this from Apple (although I suppose the insurance company might be able to) but if you have suffered no loss then you have no need for money to cover it. Similarly for any other insured losses.

    However I cannot see how this would damage a court case, unless there is an attempt at fraud, but this would be found by the courts (when asking for receipts & talking to companies providing medical etc. services) and as there is no mention or suggestion of this in the article then we should assume that the claims are only for uninsured losses and teh usual "pain and suffering" type things.

    Here is my logic:

    Kid is burned. Medical bill for rectifying burns = $1,000,000*

    Any future medical work covered by insurance

    Kid's insurance pays all but $15

    Kid therefore seeks return of $15 from Apple

    *this could be any number greater than $15

    Kid's lawyers, medical personnel and assorted ambulance chasers ask for £250,000 for pain and suffering.

    At trial, assuming Apple contest, there will be two main things to prove:

    (1) that the damage was Apple's liability (if so this mandates the $15 medical claim)

    (2) that pain and suffering is worth $250,000

    Assuming success then net "gain" would be $250,000 +$15 - $15 = $250,000

    However, assuming he wasn't covered by insurance then the claim would go:

    At trial, assuming Apple contest, there will be two main things to prove:

    (1) that the damage was Apple's liability (if so this mandates the $1,000,00 medical)

    (2) that pain and suffering is worth $250,000

    Assuming success then the net "gain" would be $1,000,000 + $250,000 -$1,000,000 [+future medical bills -future medical bills] = $250,000

    The "pain and suffering" appears to be the only "profit" part of this, and would need to be proved in either case, I really don't see how having insurance would harm this.

    I also understand that the figure touted for pain & suffering is a starting point for bargaining and I would expect Apple to offer a lesser amount out of court, no admissions, no bad press, no disclosure.

    But I may be being a bit dense to the nuances of US compensation grubbing.

  36. Peyton


    The only "dense" part is where you said: "Here is my logic". If this goes before a jury, then logic does not apply =) It's like in the US when we buy a car - you can never say to the dealer "Here is what I will pay for this car" end of story. There is always trade-in value of current vehicle, taxes, fees, monthly payments, etc etc - ALL geared to confuse the consumer and trick them to pay more than they *think* they are paying. Similarly, if the lawyer can say "we have this bill from the hospital and this bill from physical therapist and mom and dad had to sell the family cow to cover this and all they have right now are three beans and the whole ordeal has been just awful for them" it's just another shell game to overwhelm the jury with information and justify a huge reward amount, by just sort-of slipping in an excessive p&s award with everything else. Additionally, by itself 250K seems fairly big, but 250K as a part of a million is magically "smaller." If all they can say is "we want $250,000 for p&s," this is a very simple and concrete, and it's easier to question a single dollar amount then a plethora of dollar amounts.

    And yes, this is speculative, but we USAians* are very jaded with the whole lawyer thing - until we have an accident. We never say "oops my fault" - we call a lawyer, whom we have on speed-dial, before we call emergency services. Having an accident involving any sort of corporation is viewed akin to winning the lottery. This would not be the case if logic prevailed in our personal injury trials...

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