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Jury Powers Down Man’s Laptop Fire Claims

DALLAS (CN) - Hewlett-Packard is not liable to a man who said his laptop caused a fire that damaged his home, a Dallas County jury concluded.

Judge Carlos Cortez signed the jury's final judgment on Jan. 17 after a two-day trial in December.

"It is ordered, adjudged and decreed that plaintiff Ralph Carrington takes nothing from defendant Hewlett Packard Company," Cortez wrote.

In November 2011, Carrington, of Garland, sued HP for gross negligence, negligence, products liability and breach of warranty.

He claimed that the computer caught fire in November 2010 and spread through his home.

"The fire was determined to be caused by the failure of the computer which caught fire and spread damage through the resident," the complaint said. "The fire to the residence belonging to the plaintiff was due to the improper design, repair, manufacture and[/]or defendant condition" of the laptop.

HP flatly denied the allegations, claiming something else caused the fire. It claimed Carrington or his daughter were at fault.

"Defendant will show that plaintiff discarded all of the physical evidence, except the computer, before defendant had the opportunity to conduct its own tests and investigation as to the true cause and origin of the fire in question," HP said in its November 2011 answer to the suit. "Accordingly, defendant asserts spoliation of evidence by plaintiff in this case."

Furthermore, HP said all implied warranties for the computer were disclaimed in the accompanying sales documents.

"Defendant will show that all of plaintiff's breach of warranty claims were asserted outside the statute of limitation and therefore time barred," HP said.

Joseph Garnett with Sheehy Ware represented HP.

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