back to article Apple blew my mind – literally, says woman: MagSafe plug sparked face-torching blaze, lawsuit claims

Apple used to sell its MagSafe technology as a way to prevent accidents. Now the iGiant faces a $75,000 lawsuit over claims its discontinued power adapter connector set a woman ablaze. In a complaint filed on Wednesday in a US federal district court in Chicago, Illinois, plaintiff Penny Manzi alleges that early last year a …

  1. Dr_N Silver badge

    "Ignited the oxygen", eh?

    Case dismissed due to scientific ignorance.

    Next!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Ignited the oxygen", eh?

      Yes something strange here. A spark from a connector is not likely to cause a flash fire over her face, just because she is wearing an oxygen mask.

      However it could have been the catalyst for another fuel source.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Ignited the oxygen", eh?

      From the complaint for reference...

      22. On January 17, 2018, Plaintiff PENNY K. MANZI was using the Defendant's MacBook at her home, with the MagSafe Adapter, when a spark from the MagSafe Adapter ignited the oxygen Plaintiff was using.

      23. On January 17, 2018, Plaintiff PENNY K. MANZI's oxygen unit was set at 100%, number setting five, at the time the MagSafe Adapter shot off a spark causing her oxygen mask to ignite.

      24. On January 17, 2018, defendant APPLE'S MagSafe Adapter defectively sparked and started a flash fire, engulfing the Plaintiff PENNY K. MANZI's face and skull in flames.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Ignited the oxygen", eh?

        > From the complaint for reference...

        What was her name again?

  2. jake Silver badge

    Was she holding it wrong?

    Just askin'.

  3. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    $75,000 is a paltry sum for face recognition not working

  4. imanidiot Silver badge

    Even with the plethora of problems macs have, this seems implausible. Did she have her face just right on top of the connector? And was she breathing pure oxygen instead of the normal supplemental oxygen which would usually not be enough to ignite anything? And did she ignore ALL the warnings about using electronic devices when on (pure) oxygen?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Also, any plug will spark when you remove it from / introduce it to a power source. It is just how electricity works.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Especially the US plugs. I'm always amazed what a shoddy system that is. Not sure if UK plugs spark as badly but it's hidden inside though?

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Alert

          US & Canada, flimsy wiring, thin metal plugs & a spark when you plug in or turn on a light that illuminates the plastic fascia briefly.

          The twist-on wire connector has grown on me (Still prefer the good old fashion UK terminal\chocolate block screw ons) & I like the idea of stripping the wire & inserting the single core into the plug where it is locked into position.

          The whole 3 part plug assembly still unnerves me. This is where the face plate screws into a thread cut into the plug assembly, which is screwed into the wall junction box by another two screws, it never aligns well & can leave the two Live & two Neutral screws on each side dangerously close to the earthed wall box.

          Some municipalities prohibit the sensible precaution (In my eyes) of wrapping the plug in Insulation tape to prevent shorts. I much prefer (& miss) the whole UK one piece unit screwed into the wall.

          Having a breaker box, where the the breakers are accurately labelled eliminating such fun & games for the breaker for Upstairs lights, excludes half of the lights & includes half of the wall plugs.

          Icon because of the caution I use when working on home electrics.

    2. Saruman the White

      Well a previous poster has noted (from the legal failings) that she *did* have the unit dialled up to 100% oxygen. Sounds pretty self-inflicted to me, but in the good ol' US of A you never accept responsibility, you always sue, sue, sue!

  5. RGE_Master

    So she gets substantial injuries and she is only after 75K....

    I'd lose a leg for 75k....

    1. rcxb

      Would I get to pick which leg? And the method of removal I find most amusing?

  6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

    adapter ignited the oxygen in the mask she wore for her chronic

    You cannot ignite oxygen period. You can ignite something _AND_ oxygen with the increased oxygen partial pressure contributing to things burning in a way they normally do not burn in air.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

      Thing is, in a nearly pure oxygen environment, which is what those O2 masks provide, that "something" could be just about anything. The mask itself, likely made from a plastic polymer of some sort, would be a fine ignition source.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

        > The mask itself, likely made from a plastic polymer of some sort, would be a fine ignition source.

        Doesn't this mean the real problem is the material of the mask? It should have been made of something that does not burn in pure oxygen.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

          As I understand it, pretty much everything can burn in pure oxygen, it lowers the ignition temperature greatly.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

            > As I understand it, pretty much everything can burn in pure oxygen, it lowers the ignition temperature greatly.

            Unless it's an oxide already, of course. (Granted, oxides with the mechanical properties of plastic are pretty much non-existent otherwise we'd be using them for everything already.)

      2. agurney

        Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

        The mask itself, likely made from a plastic polymer of some sort, would be a fine ignition source.

        The ignition source would have been the spark, the fuel would have been her hair and face. Ouch.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

          The ignition source would have been the spark, the fuel would have been her hair and face. Ouch.

          What was the magsafe adapter doing inside the mask?

          1. Carpet Deal 'em

            Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

            She probably had her face close to the adapter.while plugging it in or pulling it out(both are common enough behaviors).

    2. drewsup

      soo..

      Tell that to the 3 poor bastids in Apollo 1!

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

      Our chemistry teacher would fail your comment,. She inserted a glass tube into a large beaker full of phosgene, turned on the oxygen and we watched as an oxygen flame formed in the phosgene atmosphere.

      You can ignite reducing agents in oxidising atmospheres, and vice versa.

      1. Norman Nescio Bronze badge

        Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

        Well, it depends on your definitions of 'ignite' and 'burn'.

        If 'ignite' means 'initiate a reaction between', then starting a reaction between an oxidising agent and a reducing agent where the reducing agent is in excess (oxygen gas in a reducing atmosphere) would definitely count as 'ignite'.

        As for 'burn', most people would make it a synonym of 'rapid oxidation' (slow oxidation being known as 'rusting'), and oxidation is defined at one level as loss of electrons (mnemonic being OIL RIG - Oxidation is Loss, Reduction is Gain (of electrons). You can make dioxygen difluoride (aka FOOF) where the oxygen has the unusual (for it) oxidation state of +1 by direct reaction at 700 °C and slightly elevated pressure (read the link for more details. It is instructive), so you might, if you squint a bit, say that the oxygen is thereby 'burnt' in the fluorine*, but generally it is other things that burn (lose electrons) in oxygen.

        *A bit more technically, burning is a form of combustion. In combustion, if the speed at which the reaction is moving through the reaction mixture is subsonic, you have what is called a 'deflagration', whereas if the reaction moves through the mixture faster than the local speed of sound you have what is called 'an explosion' or detonation. Visible flames dancing around generally correspond to a low speed of the flame front compared to the speed of sound. Whether a mixture of fluorine and oxygen deflagrates or detonates at 700 °C is not something I know, and if you intend to find out by experiment, let me know so I can be several miles away at the time.

  7. jms222 Bronze badge

    Makeup

    At a guess she's a heavy makeup/hairspray user. Maybe she was applying the stuff whilst breathing through her mask and pulled or connected the MagSafe.

    I have to say I am a MagSafe fan (2010 Macbook Pro on original far from dead battery) and have _never_ seen the tiniest spark from it.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Makeup

      Thank you for this suggestion. It's the first one that provides a plausible fuel source extending from the spark to the face.

      The fuel needs to be vapour, or else the claimant needs to be holding the spark right up against her face. In the latter case, she needs to have left the mask off long enough for the whole room to have become oxygen rich, in which case the whole room would have gone up like Apollo 1, which is not what has been reported.

  8. Ottman001

    Water damage detectors that respond to air humidity.

    Main boards that corrode because they don't coat the board like every other manufacturer.

    Premature CPU and GPU death due to poor heat management.

    Booby trapped connectors with a +5v pin next to a ground pin so they'll fry the board if you're not extremely careful when working on it.

    Fuses that can handle more current than the tracks on the PCB they're supposed to protect.

    Hard drive connectors that stop working.

    Chassis that self disassemble because the GPU fan blows hot air over glue.

    Error 53.

    Butterfly keyboards.

    To this persons lawyer, why indulge this claim about a perfectly good bit of Apple design when there are so many cases of Apple deliberately ignoring genuine design flaws and blaming problems on their users?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      corrosion

      "Main boards that corrode because they don't coat the board like every other manufacturer."

      Use proper chemistries and you do not get corrosion. Conformal coatings are a band-aid (and an ineffective one at that) for preventing corrosion. Source: 20+ years in the electronics manufacturing industry. Granted I'm on the electronics side, not the chemistry side, but I've worked with the chemistry guys enough to know that the alloys, fluxes, and surface finishes are very important.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: corrosion

        Look up the videos by Louis Rossman on youtube where he repairs failing macs at thecomponent/board level and count how many times the cause is corrosion. It's damn near 100%. Yes other methods would probably work, but even the cheapest conformal coating would keep so many macbooks alive just fine on it's own. And even the tiniest bit of corrosion on the macbook even in stupid places like a JTAG connector that serves no purpose after the laptop is finished will kill it. Macbooks are designed to fail. There is just no other explanation for the stupidity in there.

    2. Smody

      Huh. Guess I'm just extremely lucky. My Macbook Pro from 2014, and my Albook from 2003 (which I still use for a little web development), have never had any of those problems.

  9. jms222 Bronze badge

    +5v next to ground

    Putting +5v next to ground is a perfectly normal thing to do. If they'e apart it'll be worse for EMC.

    1. Ottman001

      Re: +5v next to ground

      While I was writing my post I decided to shorten it by removing parts that were about how Apple treat third party repairers. In the end it wasn't really relevant to the point I was trying to make. That one somehow survived the cut and I didn't fully explain the circumstances. More proof reading required in future!

  10. Alan Johnson

    Not Apples fault

    I am no fan of apple but it is not safe to use any electronic device in an oxygen rich environment unless it has been speciifcally designed for that environment. The design guidelines to ensure safety or alternatively the test procedures are far beyond ordinary safety standards. Quotes I remeber from testing is 'You know that fire proof tape - It is not fireproof in oxygen', "There is literally nothing left in the test chamber everything burnt''. It is down to the manufacturer of the oxygen concentrator to warn about this in the instructions for use, labels etc, which I am sure they did. It is not at the stupidity level of the classic issue that the user of the oxygen concentrator decides to have a smoke while using the system.

    The reality is that sympathetic individuals (sick, old lady) can sue and win against a big company solely on the basis of sentiment whatever the evidence or logic and who can blame a jury for thinking that apple can afford $75000 and it would make a big difference to the women. It is a however a real problem when trying to design products that will not be subject to product liability lawsuits.

    1. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: Not Apples fault

      It is not at the stupidity level of the classic issue that the user of the oxygen concentrator decides to have a smoke while using the system

      Maybe she'd also applied hairspray just before the event - that would have "helped" things along...

  11. 20TC

    MagSafe vs Friction

    Not trying to defend Apple but surely the magnetic component is just an alternative to friction or clips. So a spark is as likely - perhaps more so - from a ‘round’ DC type connector?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: MagSafe vs Friction

      To achieve the level of friction required for a secure connection, barrel type connectors are recessed - therefore any spark would be further away from any inflammable vapour.

      Like others, I'm not knocking Apple here - a pure oxygen environment is not a normal operating environment. For similar reasons, I wouldn't plug in any laptop if I'd just spilt petrol on myself.

      I've never had any reason to use an oxygen mask, but presumably they come with warnings such as 'Do not use near naked flames or other sources of ignition'?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Weird, it's otherwise never the *connector*

    Apple power supplies came with a number of stupid aspects that make me glad they switched to USB-C. First of all, the power supply cable was always of some weird material that seemed not to be too stable and flexible, secondly the PSU had flip-out "lugs" that would encourage people to roll up the cable in a manner that seemed almost *designed* to break the cable (especially as the aforementioned material was none too forgiving of being bent at the sharp angles that these lugs promoted), and thirdly they were swines to repair when the cable inevitably started fraying - and with 80W flowing through it, you really, really don't want a frayed cable.

    What I have never seen a problem with was the Magsafe connector. Cable, yes, connector, never.

    Maybe I'm the exception, but I rather appreciate the arrival of USB-C :).

    1. doublelayer

      Re: Weird, it's otherwise never the *connector*

      I concur on the many faults of the cable. I especially agree about those tabs to wrap the cable; that was clearly a bad idea. However, I like the magsafe connection because I heavily use my laptops, meaning that their batteries are going to reach that point where they do not last all day anymore. At that point, I'll need to plug them in in a place with people walking about. When they aren't looking where they're going and knock my cable, I'd rather have it fall out than stay stable. If it stays in place, either my laptop is to be thrown to the floor, which is not very nice, or the person will fall over the cable on their face, which is worse. For this reason, the magnetic connectors are useful to me. I've only seen them used on macs and Microsoft surfaces, though.

  13. Dabooka Silver badge
    Flame

    Oxygen supports combustion does it not?

    I was going to say that, depsite my knowledge being sketchy and my memeory fading, I thought oxygen supported combustion but wold not 'igntite' as it were. As usual the crowd have already flagged this up as such, which makes me think how on earth is this going to proceed? Surely it'll be dismissed, or is this a case of playing for an settlement hence the low value of the claim?

  14. dansbar

    Apple never marketed the product as intrinsically safe or suitable for an Oxygen rich environment.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So others may Live

    I don't recall Apple warning anyone about using a magsafe adapter while pumping gas or lacquering my floors or even storing the magsafe end in my cutlery drawer.

    Rather not burn my face off to test that theory though.

    Have at it Penny. Any spoils should at least include a Darwin award.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: So others may Live

      She hasn't permanently removed herself from the gene pool, so no Darwin award for this lady.

  16. Cynical Pie

    Reminds me of a tale from my time in the Fire Service..

    ... (as an Admin Monkey, not a water squirter) of a passenger in a car who got incinerated when she dropped her ciggie into the footwell next to her Oxygen cylinder.

    No matter how dumb you think people can be civilisation always has a way to plumb new depths of stupid

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