« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Contra Costa Times, Published January 19 2012

Neil Young's company sued for fire sparked by his hybrid car

The company founded by rock musician Neil Young to convert his one-of-a-kind LincVolt hybrid electric car is being sued for nearly $500,000 after the vehicle sparked a fire that damaged two San Carlos, Calif., warehouses in 2010.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by Unigard Insurance Co., says LincVolt LLC, which lists Young as an officer, was negligent when it converted the 1959 Lincoln Continental to run on electricity and a biodiesel-powered generator.

“The altering of a gas-powered 1959 vehicle and its components is an extreme departure from what a reasonably careful person would do,” Unigard claims in the suit filed in San Mateo County Superior Court.

A malfunction while the car was charging set off a three-alarm fire in November 2010 that caused about $1 million in damage. Most of the damage was to the rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia - instruments, photos and films that Young had stored in the warehouse.

Unigard claims it paid $482,000 to Al Schick, the owner of the building, to cover damage caused by the fire. The blaze started in the neighboring warehouse, which also belongs to Schick, and was rented to Young. Unigard is suing to get that money back from LincVolt LLC.

Attorney Peter Lynch, who represents Unigard, didn't respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Schick, who continues to rent a warehouse to Young, declined to talk abut the lawsuit, but said he and Young are on good terms.

“I've never had any problems with Neil,” he said.

Young assembled a team of workers in 2008 to convert the car from gasoline to hybrid power, an effort he chronicled in a film series. But after the fire it was left a burned-out shell.

Young had the vehicle rebuilt and its progress has been tracked by posts on a website devoted to the Lincoln.