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U.S. District Court, Oregon

This lawsuit arose out of a fire which commenced in the carport area of the plaintiffs’ residence and spread to the main house, resulting in the destruction of both the carport, the residence and much of the contents. The plaintiffs alleged that the fire started in the ________ Hyundai Excel, owned by Ken Davis, Jr., and parked in the plaintiffs’ carport at the time of the fire. The plaintiffs alleged that the cause of the fire was a defect in the Excel’s electrical system. The defendant Hyundai denied liability and contended that the fire was not attributable to a defect in the ________ Hyundai Excel. The plaintiffs claimed a $________ subrogation interest. The plaintiffs claimed an additional $________ in uninsured losses and personal injuries resulting from the fire.

The fire began sometime during the evening of February 4, or in the morning of February 5, in the carport area of the plaintiffs’ home in Junction City, Oregon. The fire department was called at approximately 5:50 A.M. on February 5, ________. By the time the fire fighters arrived, the house was engulfed in flames. The plaintiffs’ residence and its contents were a complete loss.

The plaintiff’s residence was a two story residence with a large, attached carport. At the time of the fire, there were three vehicles owned by the plaintiffs and one vehicle (the ________ Excel) parked in the McGarvey carport. On the evening of February 4, the owner of the Excel, Mr. Davis, had pulled into the plaintiffs’ carport experiencing car problems. He removed the battery from the Excel and took it home to charge it. All of the vehicles were destroyed in the fire.

The plaintiffs alleged that the burn patterns on the remains of the carport indicated that the fire originated in the Excel. The Oregon State Police Arson Investigator concluded that the probable cause of the fire was an electrical short in the wiring of the air conditioning system of the Excel which allegedly ignited the carpet of the front passenger side of the Excel and which, in turn, ignited the carport and residence. The battery of the subject vehicle had been removed approximately ten hours before the fire was discovered. The Arson Investigator concluded that the fire had started before the battery had been removed from the car and had smoldered overnight.

The plaintiffs’ liability experts testified that wires routed over a brake cover abraded, eventually arcing, causing a shower p 7 3 of sparks to fall to the carpet padding, causing a fire to smolder for ten hours before the fire erupted. The plaintiffs called the Oregon State Police Arson Investigator to support their theory.

The defendant Hyundai called an expert metallurgist who testified that there was no arcing on the brake cover and that a fuse would have blown, preventing any fire. This expert also testified that the carpet and padding of the subject Excel were fire resistant and would not have smoldered as claimed by the plaintiffs’ experts.

Hyundai additionally called a fire origin expert who testified that the carpet and padding of the Excel met all federal requirements and that a more likely cause of the fire was arson.

Finally, Hyundai called an in-house engineer who testified that the wiring in the Excel was properly routed and that the electrical system in the Excel was properly designed.

The plaintiff wife claimed that her pre-existing lupus condition was exacerbated by the fire and the plaintiff husband claimed that his pre-existing heart condition was made worse by the fire.

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