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The Xbox replacement cords issued in early 2005 were considerably beefier than the original cords, and emblazoned with multiple warning labels (Source:
Bereaved parents blame Microsoft, Wal-Mart for a deadly house fire that claimed an infant's life

An Illinois lawsuit alleges that Microsoft and mega-retailer Wal-Mart are at fault for a fire sparked by a faulty Xbox 360 power cord. The suit was filed in December 2006 by the family of Wade Kline, a baby who perished in the accident.

The case came to light this week when Wal-Mart filed a motion to move the proceedings from a state court to a federal jurisdiction. Along with Microsoft and Wal-Mart, an unnamed power-supply maker is also named as a codefendant. The Kline family is seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages for the fire that destroyed their Warsaw, Ill., home.

The lawsuit alleges an overheated electrical supply line for an Xbox 360 sparked the blaze, according to an article in InformationWeek, however the suit claims the fire occurred in late 2004. The magazine concludes that the product involved must have been a first-generation Xbox (not Xbox 360) unit.

Microsoft recalled 14 million Xbox power cords because of potential fire hazards in February 2005, about two months after the Warsaw fire occurred.

In a statement released by Microsoft, the company expressed sympathy for the family, "However, we are not aware of any evidence that an Xbox caused the fire."

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By dflynchimp on 5/26/2007 4:23:33 PM , Rating: 1
You have to wonder where these parents were when the incident happened. For one, I highly doubt the xbox was bought for the baby. Under normal circumstances a powerbrick/cable doesn't undergo a lot of heating when not in use, so they must've left the xbox running. I'm not saying they should've turned it off since one would think leaving the xbox on indefinitely shouldn't be a problem, but I'm sure we've all noticed that every power brick, whether for laptops or game consoles or other appliances, get pretty hot after use. In fact some of those power cords often are designed to run just under the threshold of overheating.

Chances are this couple either had a really hot house or had the power cord in a place where its heat got all bottled up. Or alternatively the rubber layer surrounding the powercord could have been ruptured by rough handling or just everyday wear and tear. I would know because I've had a laptop powerbrick/cord burn (literally) out on me because the copper wiring became exposed to the air after the rubber insulation was torn (it was a really old cable). Once the wiring becomes exposed to air it's inevitably going to spark/blow/ignite. Everyday wear and tear is not something that a company can account for because a large part of the W&T is based on the consumer's use.

Of course, I'm not advocating that Microsoft is not to be blamed for the situation. The very fact that these large corporations would rather cut costs by forcing (or having) their hardware run at the very limits of their thermal/physical capacity is disheartening. They should've thought to design the cable with a higher thermal envelope yet have it run at nominal voltage/currents much lower than the limit. I should think that spending the extra cost of producing a higher quality product would beat having the product potentially prove inadequate and having to recall a shitload of the shipments and having a law suit brought against you.

Generally speaking I'm a anti-suit person, because I think some of us as Americans abuse the legal systems, trying to overextend the protection it offers to the point of trying to get pampered. And while I think the parents have every right to demand compensation from Microsoft, they really should have taken a little more responsibility by not leaving their child unattended, which more likely than not was what they did.

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