Jury rules for Fayette man in fire case

Landlord claimed HP scanner sparked blaze at dress shop

A retired Fayette County teacher has won a $110,000 jury verdict against the Hewlett-Packard Corporation for a fire at a downtown Fayetteville building that was tied to a computer scanner used by a tenant.

The fire happened Feb. 16, 2006 at Once in a Lifetime Events on south Glynn Street across from the historic Fayette County Courthouse. The building is owned by former Fayette County High School teacher Larry Graves.

According to Graves’ attorney John Mrosek, expert testimony showed that the HP 5200 scanner ignited the blaze on a work station maintained by the building tenant. The experts contended that the cause of the fire was the printed circuit wiring board inside the printer’s power supply.

The company rejected the theory, asserting that the scanner model was “rigorously tested” before it was sold and could not have been the cause of the fire. The HP5200 is no longer in production but previously was manufactured in Singapore, Mrosek said.

No one was hurt in the fire, which occurred shortly before 8 a.m. and was reported by a passerby. While the flames were limited to Once in a Lifetime, some smoke damage extended to two adjacent businesses.

The building is part of several attached businesses which were originally built on the old courthouse square in the very late 1800s or early 1900s, it is believed.

The trial was conducted in Fulton County State Court, lasting four days.

Graves said he was glad the trial is over.

“The time delay and expense has been a big deal to me and my family and I appreciate the judge and the jury listening to my side of the story,” Graves said.