Alibaba sued for selling a 3D printer that overheated, caught fire, and killed a man

Parents claim Chinese retailer is liable for their son's tragic death


Alibaba is being sued in the US by the parents of a man, who bought a 3D printer from the Chinese e-commerce giant, and died in an accident after the device allegedly malfunctioned and caught fire.

Hoi Kwong Yu and Janice Yu, parents of Calvin Yu, claim their son purchased "a defective Tronxy X5SA 24V 3D printer" from Alibaba's website AliExpress.com around 9 November 2019. Disaster struck six months later, on 11 June 2020.

The device was plugged into an electric power strip, and overheated causing a fire to erupt in Calvin's home, it was alleged in court documents filed to San Francisco's Superior Court [PDF]. He died a day later.

San Francisco Fire Department's investigative team reportedly concluded the fire was caused by the 3D printer, and that Calvin died "as a result of complications due to the thermal injuries caused by the defective printer."

Now, Calvin's parents are suing Alibaba as well as the printer's third-party manufacturer, Shenzhen Tronxy Technology for product liability and negligence. "Defendants…had a duty to warn Decedent Calvin Yu about the defects in, and the dangers associated with, use of the Tronxy X5SA 24V 3D printer of which they were aware, or in the exercise of ordinary care, should have been aware, at the time the printer left the defendants' control," it was claimed.

"Defendants, and each of them, knew the Tronxy X5SA 24V 3D printer sold and shipped to Calvin Yu would be used without inspection for defects by ordinary consumers like Calvin Yu, now deceased and represented that the device could be safely used and would be fit for the ordinary purposes for which it was purchased," the lawsuit said.

Calvin's parents blasted Alibaba and others, claiming he suffered pain, emotional distress, despair and humiliation moments before the disaster. They believe that as successors in interest to Calvin's estate, Alibaba and Shenzhen Tronxy Technology should pay damages.

The amount was not immediately specified and is yet to be proved by the plaintiff's legal team.

Alibaba was not immediately available for comment. ®

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