Defective Toy Design Leads to Multiple Fires

    Electrical Engineering Expert WitnessThis case involves a class action that was initiated in response to a line of defective and dangerous children’s toys. It is alleged that the toys, which contained a large battery pack along with motorized components, posed a significant fire hazard while in use and while charging. It was believed that a circuit board on these toys had a propensity to over-heat, causing spontaneous ignition of the toy’s internal electronic components. This has caused the toys to emit smoke, fumes, sparks, and flames in several separate instances, some of which have resulted in building fires and extensive injuries. It is alleged that the circuity contained in these toys was negligently and dangerously designed, and that owners of the toys were not warned of the potential for fire. A batteries expert witness was sought to opine on this issue.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Do you have extensive knowledge in circuit board engineering?
    • 2. Have you had any experience dealing with faulty dishwasher circuit boards?
    • 3. Please explain the dangers a toy can cause?

    Expert Witness Response E-009823

    I am very experienced with circuit board engineering and would be happy to assist on this case. I have worked on toy fires in the past and am able to analyze electrical and electronic engineered systems that can cause these fires. This includes system specification analysis, detailed circuit analysis, circuit overcurrent protection analysis, electronic application review, inspection of circuit boards, IPC standards, circuit layout implementaiton, and other aspect’s of the toy’s design and construction. The electronic circuits contained in these particular devices utilize a mix of both low voltage control and high voltage power signals. Integration of both control and power in smaller and more compact forms poses additional risks to the developers of such products who are trying to reduce the costs of manufacturing. Design issues or circuit component weaknesses are most likely to blame when products fail in a repeatable fashion. There are many engineering factors to consider, such as design guidelines and implementation, product testing, as well as the product development process, to ensure a safe and reliable product. Dangers specific to electronic toys are generally no different than other consumer electrical products. A failure of any one component can lead to end effects that create safety hazards such as fires due to electrical shorting and arcing, design oversight, overheating of components, manufacturing processes, and more. It seems, given the consistent and repeated nature of the failure described here, that the failure is related to some faulty element in the toy’s design or construction.

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