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Survivors of fatal house fire in Japan sue Apple for $1.3M, blame blaze on iPhone

This file photo shows the building that houses the Nagoya District Court. (Mainichi/Shinichiro Kawase)

NAGOYA -- Survivors of a house fire that killed a couple in the central Japan prefecture of Aichi filed an approximately 140-million-yen (about $1.3 million) lawsuit with the Nagoya District Court on Feb. 25 against Apple Japan Inc., blaming an iPhone for the blaze.

    The survivors are demanding compensation based on the Product Liability Act. One of the plaintiffs, a man, said, "We want them to identify the cause to prevent a similar incident from occurring again."

    According to the complaint and other sources, the fire occurred in the living room on the first floor of a two-story house in the prefecture in around autumn 2019. The blaze burned down the house, killing a married couple sleeping on the second floor. Other family members escaped and were uninjured.

    According to the fire department's cause certificate, the area around the iPhone connected to an official Apple charger that was found under a "kotatsu" -- a table with an electric heater underneath and covered by a quilt -- was heavily burned. Though the fire department "could not identify" the precise cause of the fire, it concluded that "there is a possibility that the iPhone ignited."

    The table was reportedly without a quilt cover and turned off at the time. The plaintiffs are claiming that the iPhone had a defect that endangered safety as "there was no other electric equipment near the area that could cause the fire."

    According to the male plaintiff, Apple responded to the incident by saying, "The iPhone was not the cause." The plaintiffs' lawyer Shinji Ishikawa said during a news conference, "Although there have been a series of similar incidents nationwide, people aren't informed of such damage. We want this suit to be an opportunity to urge the manufacturer to prevent similar incidents."

    Meanwhile, Apple has not responded to media inquiries on the matter.

    (Japanese original by Kazuki Sakuma, Nagoya News Center)

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