Ontario Man’s iPhone Burn Lawsuit Let Go After Refusing Apple Device Inspection

Matthew Riddell says his overheated iPhone 5 burned his arm and Apple should be held responsible, so he filed a lawsuit against the company.

Iphone 5

However, he refused to let Apple inspect the device, so his legal challenge was dismissed by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which agreed with a previous lower court decision, noting Apple had the right to examine the iPhone 5 in question, reports The Canadian Press.

“In this products-liability case, the appellant seeks damages for what he alleges were personal injuries caused by the negligent manufacture of an iPhone,” the Appeal Court said.

“Yet he refused, absent a court order, to permit an independent third-party expert to inspect the iPhone prior to trial at no cost to him to assist the trial judge in determining the central matter in dispute between the parties.”

The $25,000 small claims court launched against Apple Canada alleged severe burns to Riddell’s right arm were caused by his overheated iPhone 5. Apple wanted to inspect the iPhone 5, but Riddell refused.

In small claims court back in November 2015, a judge ordered Riddell to give Apple the iPhone to examine, noting it would be unfair to proceed with the trial if the smartphone maker did not have “the benefit of an inspection.”

In refusing to hand over his iPhone 5, Riddell went to Divisional Court in Oshawa, Ontario, to review the decision. His argument was small-claims court had no right to decide the inspection order, but Divisional Court disagreed.

“In this case, it is clear that an examination of the iPhone 5 is critical to a proper determination whether it could have caused the damages that the applicant claims,” the panel stated. “The applicant categorically said that he would be calling expert evidence. In light of that stated intent, fairness required that the respondent be given the same opportunity that the applicant would have to inspect the iPhone 5.”

Next, Riddell then took his case to the Court of Appeal to review the decision; the latter failed to agree with the Ontario man’s refusal to turn over his iPhone for inspection. “Trial fairness, the interests of justice, and the proper exercise of the trial judge’s functions…all compelled this result,” said the Appeal Court.

The Court of Appeal did not award any costs “given the novel and public interest dimensions of the issues raised on appeal,” explained The Canadian Press.

Correction: the original title of this story has been edited to reflect the case being dismissed, not lost, as it has not gone to trial yet.

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  • iverge

    This fool probably thought they would settle the case.

  • Sam

    Did he paid court cost? Did not understand that part of the article. Hope he had to – waste of court time that can be better used trying real criminals!

  • Steve Wright

    “The Court of Appeal did not award any costs”
    In other words, Apple did not have to pay the man’s costs for the trial – He had to pay his own.

  • Jesse James

    Real criminals lol.
    Would Apple Computers please approach the bench.

  • It’s Me

    I think it is the opposite. If a frivolous lawsuit is brought and then tossed, often the plaintiff will have to pay the costs of the defendant…a way to dissuade such wasteful cases. In the case however, the court appears to have decided that Riddell won’t have to pay Apple’s court costs simply because the found the case “novel”.

  • It’s Me

    Yup.

    My bet is that he had one of the iPhone 5 units with a defective battery and instead of having Apple replace it for free, he bought a cheap replacement. That would explain why he doesn’t want Apple looking at it, he knows what they’d find.

    A friend of mine was in a similar position. The battery in his 5 died but Apple wouldn’t include it in the free replacement program because he’d originally had the whole unit replaced a month after purchase because of a defective camera. He was stuck with a dead battery and didn’t want to spend another $100+ with Apple to replace it, so he got one off of Amazon.

  • Steve Wright

    The article just said that no costs were awarded to either side. Each were responsible for their own. Either way, the man should have allowed Apple to inspect the phone so they can defend themselves.

  • It’s Me

    Correct, so either way could be read into the statement. But since it’s often the case that costs are awarded to the winning side, especially the defendant when a case is dismissed, it would make more sense that it was Apple that expected to have their costs covered for their time wasted by the plaintiff.

  • Matthew Riddell

    I just wish to clarify the inaccuracy of this underlying post.

    First and foremost, I (the plaintiff) have not lost the lawsuit and the case has not even had a trial yet. Indeed, this matter is going back to the trial court (Small Claims Court) to have a trial on the merits and thus I can still win this case.

    Given the expert report that I have and combined with the medical evidence (the burn is in the exact same shape and size as the iPhone 5 device), I objectively like my changes at trial.

    Furthermore, I only have to prove my claim on a balance of probabilities, which is that my events of how the burn injury occurred are more likely to have occurred than that of the Defendant, Apple Canada Inc. Put another way, I only have to prove my claim 50.01%.

    I also have a statutory right to seek leave to appeal the OCA’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.