Computer company sued over fire

By John O'Brien | Aug 3, 2006

CHARLESTON - A Putnam County couple has filed a lawsuit against Dell Computer Corp., claiming a faulty AC adaptor is to blame for the fire that damaged their house and killed their three pets.

Billy Hamrick II and Jill Hamrick entered the lawsuit July 24 into Kanawha Circuit Court, alleging that Dell failed to warn them about a known risk that the adaptor could overheat and that it posed a risk of fire and electrical shock.

"Plaintiffs' home and personal property was severely damaged by fire and smoke when the AC adaptor provided and sold by Defendant Dell Computer Corp. with its Inspiron 7500 malfunctioned and caught fire," the complaint says.

The alleged incident took place July 27, 2004, approximately four years after the Hamricks say they bought the computer.

They say the fire originated at an electrical outlet in the basement into which only the adaptor was plugged.

As a result of the fire, they say they sustained fire, smoke and water damage and their three pets died.

Two days later, the Hamricks say their grandmother, who had been living with them, died partly because of the stress caused to her by the fire.

Nine months after the fire, they say they received a safety advisory in the mail from Dell warning that adaptors sold with their brand of computer had been recalled because they could overheat.

The Hamricks are charging Dell with common law negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, breach of warranty and unfair and deceptive acts or practices.

They seek punitive and compensatory damages, as well as statutory penalties for violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act and court costs.

Kristina Thomas Whiteaker of Charleston's The Grubb Law Group is representing the Hamricks.

Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1444

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