Burned by an Apple?

No, a piece of fruit did not spontaneously combust, but a Sydney man did get third-degree burns after his iPhone ignited in his back pocket.

A man from Sydney, Australia claims that his Apple iPhone, while in his back pocket, exploded after he fell off his bike while out riding this past July. He is now on a mission to let the world know about the dangers of lithium batteries and the potential explosive we all have in our back pockets.

Gareth Clear, 36, who works as a management consultant says that after he fell off his bike, the phone in his back pocket hit the ground with his buttock, causing it to ignite.

“I just saw smoke coming out of my back pocket…and then all of a sudden I felt this surging pain,” Clear said.

The Apple product burned though his bicycle riding shorts in seconds, leaving the man’s upper-right thigh burned.

“I just remember looking at my leg and I had this black discharge all down my leg and this smell of phosphorus,” he said. “The phone was stuck to my leg having melted through both my shorts and my skin. It had to have been more than 100 degrees.”

(In fact it was probably more like a couple hundred degrees—up to 500. That’s how hot plastic, a cell phone, must be to melt.)

What is believed to have happened is that upon impact with the ground, the lithium battery was punctured, causing things to touch and mix that are not designed to. Although Clear says that it was a 1-in-a-million chance, it leaves us wondering if the phone in our back pocket is flammable.

Clear called his phone a “mini-bomb,” continuing that, “every iPhone is the same – if it happens to one, it will happen to another one. I was just lucky I was wearing pretty thick clothing and it was on my lower body.

He will still need skin grafts though, however lucky that is.

So, should we be concerned about lithium battery fires? After all, they are in more than just our phones. And have we been properly warned?

Any sort of storage of energy presents the danger of ignition. In fact, that is what storing energy is for. In the 1800s, people were concerned, and rightfully so, about steam engines exploding. In the early 1900s, people were concerned that the automobiles they were driving were filled with flammable gasoline. Today, we store energy in so many ways, and so many safety practices have been implemented, that we rarely think about it.

Lithium-ion batteries are generally safe, according to batteryuniversity.com. In the past, the shell that encases a lithiumion battery had to be quite thick—thick enough to prevent a nail from penetrating it. But as consumers have demanded smaller and smaller devices, battery makers have had to make the casing thinner and thinner. The nail test is no longer used.

Apple does warn that an iPhone could catch fire if safety warnings are not heeded. And they do say not to use a crushed iPhone. But whether or not Mr. Clear’s circumstance fits into those parameters is well, unclear.

Lithium battery burns can happen as a result of failure by multiple other devices, like hoverboards, toys, and e-cigarettes.

More recently, Samsung has faced an issue of their Galaxy Note 7 combusting more than the average phone. In fact, they had so many cases reported—hundreds—that they recalled them and issued replacements. When that did not work, because even the replacements kept combusting, they issued a mass recall for an exchange or refund. This is considered a rare occurrence; for a company to take an issue that is a problem and deal with it head on.

Not all companies face criticism so well. Defective products is a massive concern in a world driven by consumerism. Our twenty-first-century values say build more, buy more. But with all these products hitting the market, one must wonder if there is enough self-regulation and oversight.

Dolman Law Group

A victim of a burn injury is not only presented with a physical challenge but a psychological one as well. Patients and their families are faced with mounting medical bills as most patients require ongoing treatment and rehabilitation, including surgeries, medications, and various forms of therapy. For these reasons, it is important that burn victims consult with an attorney that has experience with these kinds of injuries.

At the Dolman Law Group, our experienced burn injury attorneys will investigate your claim, and then fight to obtain all the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call the Dolman Law Group today at 727-853-6275.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275



The Sydney Morning Herald

The Telegraph